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Mt Cook Hooker Valley with stars

Dark Sky Reserve

Millions of awe-inspiring stars

Unique to the Mackenzie Region, the clear skies found in this part of the world are like nothing else in New Zealand. Very limited light pollution means the views of the night sky seem to stretch on as far as the eye can see.​


In 2012, the 4300sq km area was declared as the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is the southern hemisphere’s sole dark sky reserve and one of only eight in the world. With “light pollution” strictly controlled this is a stargazing experience that is second to none.

Around the world, the ability to see stars is diminishing due to light and air pollution. As the Mackenzie Region is almost totally free from light pollution, it is known as one of the best stargazing sites on earth.

Keen stargazers will see amazing constellations that can only be seen in the southern hemisphere, including the Southern Cross, to the Magellanic Clouds and the Milky Way.

On a clear night, the Milkyway can be observed clearly by the naked eye right outside your accommodation at Mount Cook Station.

We recommend downloading the Sky Guide app on your mobile, so you can quickly identify any star, constellation, planet or satellite above yo! Easy to use and powerful, it’s epic stargazing for any experience level.


Mount Cook Station is a magical location to photograph the night sky with the mountains as your backdrop.


If you are after some tuition, we recommend spending the evening with local Rachel Gillespie, a full-time photographer specialising in Landscapes and Astrophotography.

Get in touch with her for more information.

Images below are taken by Rachel.

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