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There is no shortage of amazing stargazing around New Zealand.
With a population of only about five million people, we don’t have a lot of light pollution compared to other countries. The bright lights of cities and towns, with their homes, street lights, and even lights in football stadiums, make it even more difficult to see the stars at night. Same with the moon. The best stargazing is during the new moon, as there is no moonlight to dim the stars.
Growing up on the urban East Coast of America, my stargazing memories are probably of seeing a handful of stars at night. Not much, that’s for sure. When move to new zealand, I remember camping out and waking up to see so many stars that they didn’t look real, like someone painted the sky. When you’re growing up in the cities, and out into the wilderness and seeing the night sky properly for the first time, it’s really powerful.
You can always see the Milky Way clearly here and many other notable constellations that can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere, including the Southern Cross to the Magellanic Clouds.
The green light in the shot is from the torch of my head as I move in front of the camera during the long exposure.
And while there’s generally great stargazing around New Zealand, the best spot of all is in the middle of South Island.
Mackenzie is home to the largest dark sky reserve in the Southern Hemisphere. A decade ago, 4,300 square kilometers were declared protected by Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reservewhich strictly controls the light pollution in the area. One of only eight dark sky reserves in the world, it is also home to one of New Zealand’s most famous astronomical research facilities, Mt. John Observatory.
In towns like Tekapo you’ll notice that the street lights are dull orange and pointing downwards; One of the main ways to reduce light pollution is to block out the dark night sky.
I am wearing Merino wool jumper From the eco-friendly Allbirds Kiwi brand. This area is home to many merino sheep stations.
Nearby Tekapo is one of my favorite little South Island towns – Twizel. Or if you’re a nerd like me, Gondor. Many battle scenes from Lord of the rings’ The third movie The return of the king, was photographed here. And nearly every horse and human for a hundred miles was an add-on, too.
Twizel is one of my favorite spots, especially around back towards the Ben Ohau mountain range. It feels like middle earth here, with big epic skies and crowded mountains. Lots of merino sheep. I find peace in open spaces like the Mackenzie area, which gives my mind some break.
When my massage therapist/friend Liz in Christchurch mentioned that she and her partner had just built a design cabin near Twizzle and offered me to stay, I jumped at the chance. Before the breakup, my partner at the time and I had been fighting a lot, and I combined it with a trip to see my friends in Wanaka. It was nice to get away and do some (painful) meditation and writing.
I’ve watched the growth around Twizel with keen interest over the years. When I first moved to the South Island, it was quite small, with many cottages (holiday homes) in town.
In recent years, more and more cabins and homes are being built around Twizel on lifestyle blocks. Lifestyle blocks are not something I’ve ever heard of before moving here. But as per my understanding, it is a plot of land that is larger than a normal residential plot but smaller than a farm. Generally, you don’t see your neighbor’s houses; But it’s not very far, and you’ll probably have to mow the lawn with a riding mower. Google told me the average lifestyle block is four hectares or 10 acres. Either way, I can’t afford one any time soon.
Kiwi, I know I can count on you to correct me if I’m wrong.
Why am I so excited about lifestyle blocks? Well, many of the new homes that have been built around the outskirts of Twizel are in lifestyle buildings, including my friend Liz’s new place – Skylark Cabin.
sStaying in a great designed home here to get off the grid and write was amazing! With a huge circular skylight above the bed designed for stargazing – I found myself putting on my glasses over and over during the night to stare at the Milky Way (thanks, insomnia).
I like to stay in thoughtful and creative spaces. And I love staying in creative, architecturally modern spaces that still feel inviting and comfortable. It’s easy to build a cookie cutter house here in New Zealand, especially with the current building boom. But to make a place that reflects the story of the land, the heritage of the region, and showcases the best of the best, well, that’s hard now.
Skylark Cabin It definitely ticks all of these boxes and more – no wonder it’s always booked! Plan ahead, team!
Tucked gently among tuscan ostriches against the backdrop of the Ben Ohaw Ranges, Skylark couldn’t be more stunning. Built in 2020, Skylark Cabin was designed by award-winning architect Barry Connor. Its style allows you to make the most of the magnificent landscape of the Mackenzie Basin.
High and dry, this part of New Zealand often gets the most snow. It is not unusual for the area to be covered in white in the winter. Think big open skies, epic sunsets, freezing winters, and scorching summers. Mackenzie is bright, colorful and extreme in every way.
When I stay at a place like Skylark Cabin I don’t like to leave, so I will bring all the food I need for a few days. This way, I can make the most of the epic location and state-of-the-art kitchen. Normally, I stop at Four Square in Twizel to grab what I need, but here are a few places I find myself coming back to again and again.
- Brekkie, Brunch, or Lunch – My favorite was Shawty’s, but it looks like it just closed. the curse! I have always received good service, good food and good coffee at Poppies and the Musterer’s Hut
- Dinner – The Ministry of Public Works
When I first stepped inside the Skylark Cabin, I could feel my body heaing a sigh of relief. I didn’t realize I was so nervous and ended up doing it. It was so beautiful, comfortable and the perfect size. It was after dark, so I didn’t have my land yet. Rake, I’m starting to settle down. I made some fresh pasta, threw on my pajamas, and lay down on the couch to watch a documentary about Dolly Parton. sky.
On the outside they had one of the wonderful ones Kindle hot tubs, which you bet I’ll put my budget into a mortgage one day. There’s nothing better for the soul than a soak in an outdoor bath in a beautiful setting.
Unless you’re soaking in the spa for the night under the stars. 10/10 I would recommend.
I just spent four days relaxing in Skylark, which worked wonders for my soul. In retrospect, I wonder if I know what the next storm is for me in less than a month.
My mornings were spent reading and writing, my afternoons strolling in the area, and my evenings stargazing. If there was a formula for resetting yourself, this might be it. you are welcome. Now I need to message Liz and find out when I can book my next session here.
Have you ever traveled to watch the stars before? Have you been to Twizel? Enthusiastic? Let me know in the comments!
Many thanks to Skylark Cabin for having me at Twizel. As always, I’m keeping it real. All opinions are mine, as you would expect less from me.