Dark Sky Project a stellar attraction

Dark Sky Project a stellar attraction
Dark Sky Project, formerly Earth & Sky, has opened the doors to its new building on the Tekapo lakefront.

A new home of astronomy has opened in Takapo (Tekapo), offering the world’s first indoor, multimedia experience that combines Maoriastronomy and science.
Dark Sky Project, formerly Earth & Sky, has opened the doors to its new 1140sqm building on the Takapo lakefront.
The centre includes the Dark Sky Diner, offering a range of delicious options both day and night, and will be the departure point for the astro-tourism business’s outdoor, evening stargazing experiences.
Mana whenua from Arowhenua, Waihao and Mo-erakirananga blessed the building, named Rehua, and the Governor-General of New Zealand, Her Excellency The Rt Hon Dame Patsy Reddy, opened the new experience.
Dark Sky Project is a joint venture between Ngai-Tahu Tourism and co-founders Graeme Murray and Hide Ozawa.
Graeme says it has been incredible to watch the building take shape, especially the moment the large observatory dome was craned on to site in April.
The dome houses the 125-year-old Brashear Telescope, which stands up to nine metres tall and was in storage for five decades before being restored in Fairlie over the past two years.
The Victorian masterpiece is part of the new 45-minute Dark Sky Experience.
“Ever since Hide and I stood on the summit of Otehawai (Mt John) looking up at the night sky fifteen years ago, it has been our dream to develop a home for astronomy in the heart of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve,” says Graeme.
“So that we could inspire a lifelong understanding and passion for our night skies.”
Rebranding Earth & Sky to Dark Sky Project and the opening of Rehua marks a huge milestone in the business’s journey since it began in 2004 and entered into a partnership with iwi-owned tour-ism operator Ngai Tahu Tourism in 2016.
Dark Sky Project a stellar attraction
Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says the $3 million in government funding provided by the Tourism Growth Partnership Fund in 2016 was the kick-start the $11 million development needed.
“The Dark Sky Project is a world-class tourism experience that exhibits the values that unite us and our Ngai Tahutanga.
“It will further enhance the Ngai Tahu contribution to regional development and job creation – mo tatou, a, mo kauri a muriake nei.
“I truly commend mana whenua and all involved in the creation of an authentic experience that will see our ancestors’ stories told to the world.”
Ngai Tahu Tourism chief executive Quinton Hall says that Rehua will be a key facility in the Aoraki-Mackenzie region, ensuring the hundreds of thousands of people who transit through Takapo can enjoy the lake front dining both day and night, and enjoy an astronomy experience in any weather conditions.
Dark Sky Project will add significant value to the region as more places around the world lose sight of their stars and visitors seek out places like Takapo where they can look up at the clearest, darkest skies,” Mr Hall says.
With Takapo in the middle of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve – the largest dark sky reserve in the world and the first to receive gold status – there is no better place for a new home of astronomy.
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