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Explore New Zealand's incredible night skies

Deep in the heart of New Zealand's South Island sits the Aoraki-Mackenzie region, a sea of rolling golden hills surrounded by the jagged, snow-capped mountains of Mt. Cook National Park. Visitors flock to the area daily to feast their eyes on the stunning turquoise waters of Lakes Tekapo and Pukaki, and the soaring peak of New Zealand's highest mountain, Mt. Cook, but it's after dark, when everyone else is sound asleep in bed, that the real show starts.

One of only eight in the world, the Aoraki-Mackenzie region has been declared an International Dark Sky Reserve, a title that brings with it strict criteria for sky quality and natural darkness, as well as the need for a land management plan that allows for future preservation of the natural night time environment of the area.

In essence what this boils down to is the opportunity for visitors to the region to see some of the most magnificent skies in the world. The lack of light pollution in the surrounding areas affords a stunningly clear night sky that brings with it the chance to experience some of the best stargazing tours on offer. See the Milky Way with your bare eyes, learn about the different celestial formations and peak through a telescope to see far-off galaxies.

Take a look at this video from Mark Gee at The Art of Night to get just a taste of what you will see on a night time visit to the Aoraki-Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, and if you want to truly appreciate this incredible corner of the world, check out these outstanding star gazing tours on offer:

Big Sky Stargazing - The Hermitage Hotel, Aoraki/Mt. Cook National Park

Earth & Sky Mt John Night Observatory Tour - Mt. John, Lake Tekapo