Breathe in and feel the exhilaration grow as your eyes adjust to the darkness.
Above you, an endless canvas of stars is scattered across the sky as your Southland stargazing experience bursts into full celestial bloom.
The Southland region is known for amazing views with its seemingly endless daytime sky that turns into a stargazer's paradise by night. From Fiordland in the west to Stewart Island/Rakiura in the south, our region offers one of the darkest locations in the world to view the night sky - as the centre of the galaxy passes almost directly over your head.
Stargazing embodies natural wonder and thousands of years of scientific and cultural learning. For centuries we’ve looked upward for enjoyment, direction, instruction, and inspiration. Observing the sky above not only lets you reconnect with something of possible deeper meaning but also provides a fascinating sense of perspective about our place in the universe.
You might even get a front-row seat for the greatest natural light show on Earth, as the Aurora Australis/Southern Lights throws out spectacular sheets of purple, green, yellow, and blue light that dance silently across the night sky in a symphony of colour.
Ancient civilisations lived by the night sky, using it to navigate, grow crops, and hunt, and within Tātai Arorangi (Māori astronomy), sophisticated and detailed knowledge of the constellations and moon phases exists to this day.
Come and explore Stewart Island's Dark Sky Sanctuary with Twinkle Dark Sky Tours! From craters on the moon to the center of the galaxy, a Twinkle Dark Sky Tour will show you some of the most stunning sites in our solar system and…
To the south, you will find that Stewart Island/Rakiura’s beauty and remoteness means it is virtually free of light pollution, making the island’s night sky experience among the best on Earth. This is just one reason why in 2019, the island was recognised globally as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary. Only the second island in the world to achieve this recognition, and the southern-most; sanctuary status is awarded to areas that possess an exceptional quality of starry nights.
The name Rakiura, often translated as ‘glowing skies’, refers to the story of Māori Chief Te Rakitāmau. It is said the red skies of Rakiura reflect the blushing embarrassment of Te Rakitāmau after a marriage proposal was declined.
The island's unique scenery and almost primeval natural landscapes perfectly complement the night skies, making for an other-worldly experience.
To the west, picture yourself in the middle of Fiordland’s World Heritage Area with the majestic Milford Sound as the backdrop to the galaxy of wonders unfolding above you.
Now breathe out and look deep into the mesmerising depths of the Milky Way’s billions of stars that make up our galaxy, an array of other cosmic constellations, and maybe the odd shooting star too.
Explore our region further by taking a dark sky tour for unparalleled views of the most stunning sites in our solar system and the larger cosmos, or capture jaw-dropping images while learning how to achieve the most beautiful photographic results.
Head on down to the edge of New Zealand and let Southland’s starry nights amaze you — what are you waiting for?