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The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve

The Mackenzie Region is home to some of the clearest, most spectacular night skies in the world. The dark sky reserve was the third to be recognised in the world when it was created in 2012 with accreditation from the International Dark-Sky Association in Arizona. It is the largest reserve in the Southern Hemisphere and the second largest dark sky reserve in the world at 4,367sqkm. The reserve is famous world-wide and a global flagship for promoting dark skies and astro-tourism.

Map of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve
Location
The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is 4,367 square km, comprised of Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park and the Mackenzie Basin of Aotearoa New Zealand’s South Island. The reserve includes Lake Tekapo and the Godley Valley; Lake Pukaki; and Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park within Te Wāhipounamu - South West New Zealand World Heritage Site.
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Night Sky
The lack of light pollution, the clarity of the night sky and the wide open vistas of the Mackenzie Basin are features that make this site special and distinguish it from other locations around the world with equally beautiful night-time vistas. The night skies correspond to the Bortle class of 2, representing a virtually pristine night sky.
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Landscape
The Mackenzie Region is located in the centre of the South Island and is the largest intermontane basin, or ‘plateau amongst mountains’, in Aotearoa New Zealand. The dramatic landscape was shaped by glaciers and features huge glacial lakes and golden tussock lands ringed by snow-capped mountains.