28 Apr 2021

Fiordland 'Dark Sky Park' would be world's second-largest

3:30 pm on 28 April 2021

Fiordland's brilliant night sky could become the second largest Dark Sky Park in the world.

The skies above Stewart Island have seen the area classified as 'Dark Sky Sanctuary'.

The skies above Rakiura / Stewart Island have already seen the area classified as 'Dark Sky Sanctuary'. Photo: Supplied / Sandra Whipp

Great South Southland Regional Development Agency has been working with the Fiordland community and stakeholders on the possibility of it becoming an accredited Dark Sky Park with the International Dark Sky Association (IDA).

Work is already under way with hopes it would bring domestic and international visitors to the region.

Great South expected it would extend the tourism season over winter when viewing is at its best, and spokesperson Amie Young said Fiordland already ticked most of the boxes with very little light pollution.

It was not about having no light, but about how it was used - directing it downward where it was needed and shielding fixtures so light was not spilling up into the sky, Young said.

Great South tourism and events general manager Bobbi Brown said early indications were that Fiordland would be suitable for becoming a Dark Sky Park.

"If Fiordland National Park received IDA Park designation it would make it the second largest Dark Sky Park in the world, second only to Death Valley National Park in the USA," Brown said in a statement.

There is already international interest in the southern night sky with Rakiura / Stewart Island named the world's fifth Dark Sky Sanctuary in January 2019.

"An official Dark Sky Park in Fiordland would complement that and enhance promotion of the wider Southland region as a top night sky observation destination," Brown said.

Fiordland Community Board chair Sarah Greaney was enthusiastic about the opportunity.

"We have amazing night skies here in Fiordland, completely unpolluted by light. The opportunity for us to become a Dark Skies Park opens up possibilities for businesses, photographers and many others to share this with the world, so it's very exciting to see this progressing," she said in a statement.

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