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The star quality of New Zealand’s Great Barrier Island

The off-grid island 90km off the coast of Auckland is a Dark Sky Sanctuary ideal for star gazing – and the views by day are heavenly too

I was glad I had such terrible jet lag. Wide awake at 3.30am with my nine-year-old daughter on our lodge balcony, I stared for hours at the most incredible night sky I’ve ever seen before the dawn slowly started to rub out the stars on the horizon and the multiple shooting stars faded away.

We were going to my girlfriend’s big family reunion in Auckland, New Zealand, but when we found out that Great Barrier Island, just off the coast, had been recently awarded Dark Sky Sanctuary status – a typically remote area that has an “exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights” – we thought it would be the perfect place to unwind before our busy schedule. It’s the first island and only the fourth location in the world to achieve this (along with Chile’s Gabriela Mistral, the Cosmic Campground in New Mexico and Rainbow Bridge National Monument in Utah).

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