Stewart Island applies to be a 'dark sky sanctuary', a haven for star-gazers

Stewart Island's starry night sky could soon receive international recognition.

Venture Southland has applied for Stewart Island to be declared one of the world's few "dark sky sanctuaries",  and if successful it'll provide the island's tourism industry with a welcome winter boost.  

By definition dark sky sanctuaries are "typically a remote location" with an "exceptional quality of starry nights".

If approved, it would be one of only five sanctuaries around the world, including Great Barrier Island, off Auckland, which was granted the same status last year.

"The benefits are that it typically attracts people during the winter months, and shoulder periods, the periods that are not normally busy from a tourist perspective," said Steve Canny of Venture Southland.

Unofficially, Stewart Island has long been known as a star-gazing haven. Stewart Island's Māori name is Rakiura which translates to"glowing skies".

Anita Geeson of the Stewart Island Promotion Association said: "Astro-tourism has been going on here for quite a long-time. So it's not actually new, but this is just giving it some recognition."

Venture Southland has submitted the application and is due to hear back if the island will become an official dark sky sanctuary by the end of the year.

If successful, the recognition will provide the island's tourism industry with a welcome winter boost. Source: 1 NEWS