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Dark Sky Project

1 July 2019

There is nowhere in the world quite like Tekapo to see the wonder of the night sky, and a new visitor attraction will bring it to life like never before.

Dark Sky Project launches on Tuesday 2 July, the most advanced astro-tourism offering in the country. Based in a purpose-built facility on the Lake Tekapo waterfront, Dark Sky Project invites visitors to explore their multimedia Dark Sky experience, diner, shops, and a restored 125-year-old telescope.

A three-hour drive from Christchurch city, Tekapo is a stunning winter escape. Once a sleepy town, this bustling centre has cemented itself as a must-visit Canterbury destination.

Dark Sky Project sits at the heart of Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, one of only 11 reserves of its kind around the world. Formerly Earth & Sky, Dark Sky Project is one of Ngāi Tahu Tourism’s boldest visitor offerings. They hope it will help define the region as the premier stargazing location in the world.

Astro-tourism is a growing source of visitation from around the world, and 80 per cent of Earth & Sky’s current business comes from overseas. For many visitors, seeing the clarity of the night sky in Tekapo is their main reason to visit New Zealand.

The new experience combines Māori astronomy with modern science in a 45-minute multimedia journey, bringing the magic of the night sky to those staying in the region, as well as those passing through.

Dark Sky Project also incorporates evening stargazing experiences at the University of Canterbury Mt John Observatory, Cowan’s Observatory and the Church of the Good Shepherd.

Construction on the facility started in early 2018, and has been delivered as a joint venture between Graeme Murray, Hide Ozawa and Ngāi Tahu Tourism.

To ensure the experience was true to Māori history, Dark Sky Project worked with mana whenua from three local rūnanga – Arowhenua, Waihao, and Moeraki – as well as Māori astronomy expert Professor Rangi Mātāmua and the University of Canterbury.

Be sure to check out Dark Sky Project on your next trip to Tekapo – there’s nothing quite like it anywhere in the world. How lucky are we!

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