Wairarapa International Dark Sky Reserve

The South Wairarapa and Carterton districts’ night skies were officially certified as an International Dark Sky Reserve in January 2023 under the collective name ‘Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve’, covering an area of 3,665 square kilometres.

The Wairarapa now joins 20 other International Dark Sky Reserves around the world, and one other New Zealand dark sky reserve in the Aoraki-Mackenzie region.

Efforts to obtain the certification first began five years ago by a small group of volunteers who formed the Wairarapa Dark Sky Association. The aim was to protect the region’s night skies from light pollution.

The reserve is expected to bring significant economic benefits from astro-tourism.

Reducing light pollution

To support the application, South Wairarapa District Council approved a change to the Wairarapa Combined District Plan in 2021 to minimise light pollution in the night sky.

This included changes to lighting rules around sports grounds and the rollout of downward tilting, warm-coloured street lights that contain the light’s spread. The aim is that within 10 years, 80% of our outdoor lighting will comply with International Dark Sky requirements.

If you are able to replace your outdoor lighting now, please do. That will help decrease light pollution and give our districts a head start on the 10 year/80% goal. See our Wairarapa Dark Sky Lighting Brochure on and Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

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