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Best places to stargaze for Matariki

This year, for the first time, Matariki will be celebrated in New Zealand with a public holiday on Friday June 24.

Matariki signals the Māori New Year, beginning with the rising of the Matariki star cluster. Gathering friends and whānau, it’s a time to remember those who have passed, celebrate the present, and look forward to the coming year. Considering a winter getaway? Why not take a Matariki road trip to see the best of New Zealand’s starry night sky. Here's a few epic spots to stargaze this Matariki. 

Kaitoke Hot Springs Track
Kaitoke Hot Springs Track

Great Barrier Island

Great Barrier Island was named the first Dark Sky Island Sanctuary in the world and is one of the best places to stargaze on the North Island. While you’re there check out the 5 awesome motor caravan accessible DOC campsites located across the island, just make sure to plan ahead as booking is required.  

Riversdale Beach NZMCA Park by Tony Neighbours
Riversdale Beach NZMCA Park by Tony Neighbours

Wairarapa

The Wairarapa is about to become a lot more famous for its starry skies as it's on track to become the largest Dark Sky Reserve in NZ. Head to Ahiaruhe and check out the open-sky observatory Stonehenge Aotearoa. Based on the many stone circles and astronomical stone structures scattered around the globe, it’s a must-visit for stargazing. While you're in the region make a beeline for the Castle Point nature reserve where you'll be blown away with the amazing sky above you. The Wairarapa has over 39 great value places to stay including our new Riversdale Beach NZMCA Park (Site ID 5118). While you're there check out the Matariki celebration on Saturday morning at the Riversdale Beach Mōtūwairaka Marae

Franz Josef NZMCA Park
Franz Josef NZMCA Park

Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park

The Aoraki National Park is home to a 4,300 square kilometer International Dark Sky Reserve, the largest reserve of this type worldwide. It’s the first to be awarded gold status, which means there is no light pollution at all. You'll find 26 places to stay nearby including the Franz Josef NZMCA Park (Site ID 6794) and CampSaver camp Fox Glacier Lodge & Campervan Park (Site ID 6812). 

Lake Tekapo NZMCA Park
Lake Tekapo NZMCA Park

Lake Tekapo

Three hours from Christchurch, this is New Zealand’s premier destination for the clearest, darkest skies, especially on moonless winter nights. Visit the Mt John Observatory for the country’s best Astro-tourism experience. There's 5 great places to stay nearby including the Lake Tekapo NZMCA Park (Site ID 8065).  

Stewart Island/Rakiura
Stewart Island/Rakiura

Stewart Island/Rakiura

A short hop away from Invercargill or Bluff by plane or ferry, Stewart Island/Rakiura is the southern-most Dark Sky Sanctuary in the world and offers one of the darkest locations to view the night sky and a great place to spot the Southern Lights. While you can’t take your motor caravan across the ferry, there’s plenty of accommodation options for you to choose from. 


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