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Local accommodation can seek DarkSky recognition

March 12, 2024 March 2024 No Comments

DarkSky, the international body responsible for world-wide dark sky accreditation, is offering accommodation providers the chance to be accredited to their just-launched “DarkSky Approved Lodging Program,” and a listing on their international website. 

Accommodation businesses in the Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve area _ the Wairarapa region stretching from south of Waingawa to the southern coast _ all have the chance to apply for dark sky provider status.

DarkSky said the programme is “encouraging hospitality companies to actively participate in safeguarding the night from the damaging effects of light pollution, while providing their guests with an awe-inspiring experience under pristine dark skies.”

Approved visitor accommodation includes camp grounds, hotels and resorts, retreat centres, ecotourism properties and astrotourism lodges situated in dark sky locations. 

As astrotourism grows in the Wairarapa reserve’s area, points of difference in accommodation offerings _ like dark sky accreditation _ will be seen as attractive options for dark sky tourists.

“As astrotourism grows in the Wairarapa reserve’s area, points of difference in accommodation offerings, like dark sky accreditation, will be seen as attractive options for dark sky tourists as they look to plan their visit here,” noted Anna Nielson, of Destination Wairarapa, the region’s tourism promotion agency.

She added: “If you are an accommodation provider and would like to know more about how to be accredited to their just-launched ‘DarkSky Approved Lodging Program,’ and a listing on their international website please contact Chrissy Cummings at Destination Wairarapa.” Chrissy@Wairarapanz.com 

The new programme “is being launched at a time when astrotourism _ tourism centred on travelling to destinations with ideal conditions for star-gazing and observing celestial events _  is at an all-time high,” the DarkSky agency said as it announced the new programme.

DarkSky added it has created what it calls “strict guidelines” for approving providers, centred on four key criteria.

1. Sky Quality, meaning a night sky dark enough for viewers to see the Milky Way with the naked eye, and for the site to meet all the criteria under annual certification reviews. 

This requirement is already met for accommodation providers within the Wairarapa Dark Sky Reserve.

2. Habitat Identification, which means DarkSky approved lodgings must use their natural environment for “informing their lighting (control) strategy to protect critical wildlife habitats.”

3. Lighting Design, which requires shields for lighting sources and minimising light intensities to … improve (dark sky) visibility and enhance the night sky experience.

Thus, each light fixture on a property must “fulfill a specific purpose” and have a “set curfew” switch like a time clock, motion sensor or localised control. The lighting standards are based on DarkSky’s “Five Principles of Responsible Outdoor Lighting.” 

4.  Education, which requires all dark sky accommodation providers to have plans to educate staff about night sky sustainability efforts. They must also provide “outreach materials for guests” to raise awareness and spread the message of the need to “preserve the natural night-time environment.”

All approved providers “go through a rigorous review and certification process, including regular reporting and periodic recertification,” DarkSky notes.

The accommodation properties which gain certification from DarkSky “will provide opportunities for visitors to spend the night in a dark sky location _ an increasingly rare experience for much of the global population,” with 80 percent unable to see the Milky Way.

See more at: https://darksky.org/what-we-do/darksky-approved/lodging/


Caption: Under the wide and wondrous sky … of Wairarapa

Credits: Sharisse Eberlein Photography; Whitimanuka Retreat WHITIMANUKA.CO.NZ

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