Aotea/Great Barrier Island is a Dark Sky Sanctuary, committed to protecting our outstanding night sky. Sanctuaries are generally found in the most remote parts of the world; it’s unusual to be able to access one so close to a major city. On Aotea/Great Barrier our isolation, small resident population and off-the-grid status mean we can preserve and protect our night sky for future generations to enjoy. We follow International Dark Sky Association (IDA) principles and requirements for maintaining our sanctuary status.

We live with an exceptional night sky. The Milky Way spans our Southern Hemisphere sky and the Magellanic Clouds, not visible in the Northern Hemisphere, are easily seen. The night sky is woven into Maori culture with Matariki, the rise of the Pleiades constellation in the pre-dawn sky, signalling the Maori New Year.

If you would like to know more about the planets, the stars, galaxies, constellations, and nebula, consider joining a Dark Sky Experience with the Good Heavens Team, Twilight trek with Star Treks or an Astro-photography workshop with Carol Comer.

Good Heavens dark sky experiences are suitable for children over 8 and adults and will include guided telescope viewing of the wonders of the universe as well as amazing astronomical facts and figures.

Star Treks craft day and twilight treks – the Kaitoke hot pools twilight trek includes star gazing through binoculars, where one of their local guides, who is a dark sky ambassador will guide you through the dark sky sanctuary.

Carol Comer offers bespoke astrophotographers adventures for who want to learn more about astrophotography and photography some of the clearest night skies in the world.

For advice on how to discover our dark sky sanctuary, contact the information centre:

Email: or call 0800 468 622

Dark sky viewing locations

Upcoming events you may be interested in:


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