New Zealand is offically one of the best places in the world to view the night sky, now that the Mackenzie Basin has been recognised as an 'International Dark Sky Reserve' (IDSR) at the Third International Starlight Conference.
Only three other locations across the world have been given a 'gold rating' in stargazing - Canada’s Mont Megantic, the UK’s Exmoor National Park and a location in Namibia. Another 14 places worldwide have received lesser ‘dark sky’ ratings.
"To put it simply, it is one of the best stargazing sites on Earth," commented Bob Parks of the International Dark-Sky Association.
The Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve - a 4300sq km area in the New Zealand South Island - has long been recognised as one of the best sites for viewing the southern sky because of the high number of clear nights throughout the year, and the stability and transparency of the atmosphere.
The location also experiences continuous year-round views of the Magellanic Clouds - satellite galaxies to the Milky Way that are only visible in the southern hemisphere.
Around one million people visit annually - attracted, not only to the stargazing, but also to the spectacular mountains, glacial lakes and outdoor pursuits such as walking, cycling, boating, and fishing.
Follow us @MaptheGap