Great Barrier Island: An International Dark-Sky Sanctuary

The Great Barrier Island (GBI) is a remote island just 60 miles off the coast of Auckland, New Zealand in the outer Hauraki Gulf.  Unlike the more popular attraction, the Great Barrier Reef, Great Barrier Island is an off the beaten path destination and a place few travelers (even native New Zealanders) have ever set foot on. This rugged and remote island is part of New Zealand’s Gulf Marine Park, where the sea is filled with dolphins, whales, blue penguins, and orca; sweeping white sand beaches give way to tidal creeks and wetlands.

Expansive beaches on the East coast of the Great Barrier Island in New Zealand.

The remoteness of this island evokes a special magic when the sun sets. There is no light pollution from any source and as the sunlight fades you can see thousands of stars like you have never seen them before. The Milky Way shines so bright, it gives you goosebumps! Because of this unique feature, Great Barrier Island has been recently awarded as an International Dark-Sky Sanctuary by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).

The (IDA) works to protect the night sky and studies the negative impacts of artificial light at night on human health, wildlife and climate change. Dark-Sky Sanctuaries are the most remote (and often darkest) places in the world whose conservation state is most fragile. “GBI has retained essentially all of its natural nighttime darkness,” says the IDA. By achieving “Sanctuary” status, the night sky on the Great Barrier Island is now formally protected. Learn more here.

The Milky Way on the Great Barrier Island at night.

The phenomenal night sky on Great Barrier Island has become part of the culture on the island of 1,000 permanent residents and island residents hope to maintain the integrity of their pristine nightscapes.

Have you ever wanted to see the Southern Cross or learn about Centaurus in the southern sky? Come join us on our 2018 adventure vacation “New Zealand: From An Insider’s Perspective” as we spend time learning about and viewing the stars in this facsinating Dark-Sky Sanctuary in NZ.