New Zealand has a new International Dark Sky Park! The Oxford Forest Conservation Area was designated by DarkSky International in January. The protected area is 113.5 square kilometres with no lighting or power supply, making it ideal for viewing the stars.
More than 20 public and private organisations collaborated to ensure there was a robust light management and policy framework in place to protect the night sky and reduce light pollution for future generations. There is now a project in place to reduce light pollution from the nearby township of Oxford with the aim of extending the protected dark sky area to include the township and a large part of the Ward’s subdivision.
The Oxford Forest Conservation Area encompasses remnants of Beech and Podocarp forests that once covered the inland Canterbury Region. By day, the forest is perfect for walking, mountain biking, and swimming at Ryde Falls. By night, it is ideal for viewing the stars. Learn more about the conservation area here: www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/places-to-go/canterbury/places/oxford-forest-conservation-area
With the designation of the Oxford Forest Conservation Area, New Zealand now has six protected dark sky areas, covering over 10,000 square kilometres.