New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island has become the first island in the world to be declared an International Dark Sky Sanctuary.
Located just 90 kilometres from Auckland, the island met the standards of the International Dark Sky Association (IDA), which awards the rare status based on the scientifically measured darkness of the sky as well as stringent outdoor lighting standards and innovative community outreach.
Great Barrier Island is home to a community focused on protecting and preserving its stunning natural beauty which makes it the ideal location to receive International Dark Sky Sanctuary status.
“A place of rugged beauty and untouched wilderness, Great Barrier Island is one of the most tranquil and unspoilt places in the wider Auckland region and the IDA status will help the island attract more visitors, including eco-tourists, astro-photographers, scientists and students,” Auckland Mayor Phil Goff says.
“Ecotourism is extremely important to Great Barrier Island and this International Dark Sky Sanctuary status will not only provide further tourism development and economic growth opportunities but also ensure the preservation of our exceptional starry skies,” Great Barrier local board chair Izzy Fordham says.
The IDA established the International Dark Sky Places conservation programme in 2001 to recognise ‘excellent stewardship of the night sky’, with sanctuary status awarded to the most isolated and dark locations in the world in order to increase awareness of the sites and promote long-term conservation.