Stargazing as you’ve never experienced it

Written by Bea Taylor

Photography Supplied


ThoughtFull’s award-winning experience, The Dark Sky Project, in Takapō (Tekapo), is yet another New Zealand spot to put on your travel list this year.

By now we’ve all come to terms with the fact that we’ll be tourists in our own country for a little bit longer. Which, for New Zealanders, is not a bad thing at all. If you’re making your way down south, Takapō (Tekapo) — which should already be on your list — is a must-stop. Especially as The Dark Sky Project has just reopened. 

The Dark Sky Project, designed by the team at ThoughtFull in partnership with Ngāi Tahu Tourism, is a new visitor experience within New Zealand’s premier astronomical research centre at the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. 

The experience, which just won top prize for Digital Installation at the Design Week Awards in the UK, was constructed to “empower people to protect the night sky.” It takes the form of a hosted walk-through of various spaces, each of which tell a different aspect of the dark sky story using immersive technologies and physical objects. 

In Zone 1, the ‘Night Sky’, you’ll learn about the solar system and constellations through animated audiovisual projections on a 12-metre wall. Zone 2 explores the ‘Sound of the Stars’. It uses the current stellar pulsations research project (which is recording vibrations and sounds a range of stars make) to create an interactive experience with glowing orbs that guests can touch to hear sounds at different intensities. Finally there’s, Zone 3, the ‘Pool of Reflection’, which details the night sky’s role in early Māori life via audio and floor projections that look like a rippling pool. 

Tekapo is one of the quietest spots on the planet and, subsequently, has one of the busiest skies in the universe. The Dark Sky Project say they’re committed to preserving the night sky as it is and plan to use their unfettered access to it in all its wonder to educate and inspire others.



dark sky project thoughtfull

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