Recognising the potential benefits of creating a southern sanctuary, Venture Southland worked alongside Stewart Island Promotion Association and an independent consultant, to prepare an application for a Dark Sky Sanctuary on Stewart Island/Rakiura.
A Dark Sky Sanctuary is an area that has been identified to possess an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and has a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, or educational value, its cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.
The application, which was unanimously endorsed by the International Dark Sky Association Board in January 2019, confirmed Stewart Island/Rakiura as only the second Dark Sky island sanctuary in the world,
Highlighting Southland as an astro-tourism destination, the accolade adds to the attraction for potential visitors to Southland and will benefit the region through increased tourism, further employment opportunities on Stewart Island and encourages the preservation of the unspoiled, natural environment.
A collaborative partnership between Southland District Council, Department of Conservation, Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Board, Rakiura Maori Lands Trust, iwi, the Stewart Island Promotion Association and Venture Southland is overseeing the advancement of the sanctuary, the implementation of Dark Sky principles on Rakiura as specified by the IDA and the promotion of Southland as a top night-sky viewing destination.