When city visitors stay with us they always comment on how dark it is at night.
I didn’t understand what they meant until staying in Auckland. When I woke up I couldn’t find my watch but could see through a gap in the curtains what looked like the half-light we get before sunrise so presumed it was nearly time to get up.
Some time later when it hadn’t got any lighter I found my watch and discovered it was only 3am and the half-light I’d thought was the prelude to dawn was the half-dark you always get in the city because of street lights.
It’s only in the country where there’s little or no light pollution that it gets really dark which enables you to see and appreciate the lights in the night sky.
The bigger the area and the sparser the population the better it is and the best place in New Zealand for the darkness that highlights the stars and planets is around the Mt John observatory beside Lake Tekapo.
The observatory already attracts visitors from around the world and locals are hoping to build on that with a bid to make the area the world’s first night sky reserve.