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What we do International Dark Sky Places

Kawarau Gibbston Dark Sky Park

The historic church cellar door under the Milky Way.


The Kawarau Gibbston Dark Sky Park comprises 25 square kilometers, including the Gibbston Character Zone and the Gibbston Valley Resort Zone, and is located between Queenstown and Cromwell in the Queenstown-Lakes district of Otago, Aotearoa/New Zealand. The Park takes its Māori name from the river that forms its northern boundary and its English name from the community situated within the Park. 

Kawarau is the Māori designation for the famed Remarkables mountain range that borders the Park. The Park enjoys a dark sky, protected by the geography of gorges and high mountains. Night sky quality documentation demonstrates that visitors to Kawarau Gibbston Dark Sky Park can experience the awe-inspiring structure and richness of central regions of the Milky Way galaxy, Magellanic Clouds, and the Aurora Australis on clear nights. 

The Gibbston Community Association (GCA) developed and supported the certification application. A key factor in its success was establishing a lighting policy endorsed by the Gibbston Character Zone and the Gibbston Valley Resort Zone. The GCA worked closely with area residents to improve lighting conditions in the community. Ongoing efforts are underway to continue making lighting improvements and implementing lighting curfews to ensure continued compliance with the lighting management plan. 

Outreach and educational opportunities dedicated to dark skies are routinely provided in the Park and will continue into the future, with many programs inspired by the New Zealand public holiday of Matariki, which occurs in mid-winter. The rising of Matariki (the Pleiades) or Pu’aka (Rigel) signifies the start of the New Year for Māori in New Zealand. Outreach events are supported by the Alexandra-based Winterstellar Charitable Trust ( Winterstellar aims to promote astronomy, dark skies, and Māori Mātauranga (culture) through astrophotography. 

Kawarau Gibbston Dark Sky Park is predominantly private lands protected via the GCA under the authority of the Queenstown-Lakes District Council. It is accessible 24/7 via public roads, bike trails, and tracks. 

Photo Credit: The historic church cellar door under the Milky Way. Copyright Brian Boyle.


25 Sq. Km




International Dark Sky Park


2328 Gibbston Highway, RD1
Queenstown, New Zealand
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The Kawarau Gibbston Dark Sky Park


Professor Brian Boyle
+64 204 848 844


Annual Reports


Click here to find ideal environmental conditions for enjoying dark skies near Queenstown, New Zealand (-45.03, 168.97).