Best time to travel to New Zealand

Stargazing in New Zealand

There is no better stargazing place in the world than South Island, New Zealand, with its perfect views on other galaxies

Best time: December–April


Stunning New Zealand's night sky is renowned as the world's darkest sky abundantly embedded with glittering stars. In particular, the South Island has recently become International Dark Sky Reserve. It reveals a plenty of unique constellations. The Southern Cross, Magellanic Clouds and famous Milky Way cannot be observed from any other place on the Earth.

A famous Jewel Box containing various coloured stars is also observable in the southern hemisphere along with the three brightest stars—Alpha Centauri, Canopus, and Sirius. B​ut the most stunning​ discovery is two galaxies represented by the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds. They are believed to be the closest galaxies to ours, situated 170,000 light years away.

Although stargazing in the South Island is available throughout the year, the skies are the clearest during summer and autumn offering the most magnificent celestial images.

The top 5 stargazing spots include Mt John in Tekapo, Twizel, the Aoraki Mt Cook National Park—all three are parts of Dark Sky Reserve. Another two sites are Queenstown and Norwegian Stonehenge Aotearoa.

Practical info

When is the ideal time to travel to South Island, New Zealand for stargazing?

New Zealand's South Island is worth visiting for stargazing, especially during summer and autumn, between December and April. These months are known for clear skies and excellent celestial views. However, regardless of the season, stargazing is possible, subject to a variety of variables, including weather conditions and the moon's phase. Show more

What's New Zealand's Dark Sky Reserve location?

New Zealand is home to three International Dark Sky Reserves, specifically located at Great Barrier Island in Auckland, Stewart Island/Rakiura in the South Island, and Aoraki Mackenzie in South Canterbury. Top stargazing venues within these reserves include Tekapo's Mt John, Twizel, and Norwegian Stonehenge Aotearoa. Queenstown is also considered an ideal option, despite being beyond the region, due to its striking night skies. Show more

Which constellations are visible from South Island, New Zealand?

New Zealand's South Island is an ideal location for stargazing, providing a dark sky, free from artificial lights, and showcasing a wealth of exceptional constellations. Common southern hemisphere constellations like the Southern Cross, Alpha Centauri, Canopus, and Sirius are visible, as are the Magellanic Clouds, the nearest galaxies to us, which are located about 170,000 light-years away. Stargazers can also view dazzling constellations such as Jewel Box, which boasts a collection of colourful stars. Show more

What's the nearest galaxy from South Island's stargazing spots?

South Island, New Zealand, is famous for its dark skies and stargazing opportunities. Visitors can observe the Magellanic Clouds, the closest galaxies to ours, which are visible with the naked eye and situated 170,000 light-years away. They have a unique look, with Large Magellanic Cloud being a barred spiral galaxy, and the Small Magellanic Cloud being a dwarf galaxy, both featuring close-up views for the naked eye viewer. Show more

Which stargazing spots are the top five in New Zealand, and what makes each of them unique?

New Zealand's top five stargazing spots are Twizel, Norwegian Stonehenge Aotearoa, Aoraki Mt Cook National Park, Tekapo's Mt John, and Queenstown, located in one of New Zealand's three International Dark Sky Reserves. Each spot provides a unique night sky scenery that is obstructed from artificial light. Mt John has New Zealand's leading astronomical research observatory, Norwegian Stonehenge Aotearoa features a Stonehenge replica, and Queenstown provides striking views of the Milky Way galaxy. Show more

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Last updated: by Eleonora Provozin