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New Zealand is world famous for its stunning mountains, beautiful waterways and amazing wildlife, and these have all featured in blockbuster movies that have helped drive visitors to see our country's landscapes first-hand. But it's less well-known that New Zealand's night sky is every bit as stunning, and perhaps even more unique.
The sparse population on New Zealand's South Island means that light pollution is far less prevalent than in other parts of the world, and our location in the southern latitudes means that in the cooler months we enjoy a lengthy period of darkness. That, combined with weather patterns that tend to give us crisp, clear skies at night, mean that we enjoy an unparalleled view of the stars, planets and other celestial objects that are obscured in most other parts of the world.
Furthermore, there are some constellations that simply cannot be seen from places further north, so you are really able to see something unique during a Kiwi star-gazing session. North Otago is blessed with nearly ideal conditions for night-sky viewing. Not only can you head up to nearby Mt John for their amazing observatory's nighttime star tour, but you can pretty much look up at the sky on any clear night and see the Milky Way, countless stars and, if you're lucky, the ethereal lights of the Aurora Australis, the southern equivalent of the Northern Lights. So, if you are thinking of visiting New Zealand during the cooler, darker time of year, you're really in for an amazing treat.
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