Stargazing Tours on Aotea Great Barrier Island
Aotea Great Barrier Island is a remote treasure island of spectacular beauty. So all Good Heavens’ experiences take place in beautiful spots. Our group experience at Medlands Beach is on a sand dune. This means you’ll hear the waves lapping on the beach while looking up and getting lost in the stars. And if you’re stargazing with us on a moonlit night, be prepared for moonlight shimmering on the waves.
Dark Sky Sanctuary
The island's Dark Sky Sanctuary status means that our skies are certified magnificent. The subtropical climate on Aotea Great Barrier Island allows for a warmer stargazing experience than many other New Zealand places, too. So you can just relax in comfort with your feet in the sand and a blanket over your lap. The journey to this island paradise is no hardship either. Either catch a scenic 30 minute flight from Auckland Airport, or undertake a stunning 4.5 hour journey over the waters of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. Check out our Travel Info page for the details.
A higher level of hosting
Imagine a stargazing experience that is cozy and comfortable, so you can absorb the moment, the stories and the stars. Good Heavens achieve this by adding a few special extra touches. We include blankets, moon chairs, hot chocolate, home baked brownies and hot water bottles in the middle of winter, so that you can concentrate on the stellar show. Our small groups of up to twelve participants allow this kind of personalised experience. And because our company is locally owned and operated, we really care that you have the best experience possible. Check out our Trip Advisor reviews for your peace of mind.
Good Heavens’ group location for stargazing on Great Barrier Island, at Medlands Beach is easily accessible, even for the less sure-footed. It is only 50 meters from the car park. However, if you want to stay in the comfort of your island accommodation instead, we may be able to come to you. Handy if you have small children, an interpreter, lots of questions, a nice glass of wine or you want to pop the BIG question! We offer this private service from March – November. Please enquire.
Perfect Barrier activity
Make the most of your time on our beautiful island, by adding on an activity after dark. There are many outdoors activities in the day time. But few people spend time outside after dark. And... Half the park is after dark. Don't miss out on the amazing beauty a Dark Sky Sanctuary provides. Come stargazing in a combined group, with our Look Up and Get Lost experience, or book a private experience for you and your loved one, or your group of friends, family or colleagues. We're told it’s a fun experience.
Personal and intimate
We want you to be able to hear your guide and ask questions. We aim to provide you with an experience that is personal and tailored to your knowledge. Our experiences are suitable for all ages. If you have children under 8, consider booking a private experience, so that we can spend extra time engaging with your child. Our guides are also happy to give you the inside track on the best local activities. Ask them whatever you have always wanted to know about the stars and the universe. Also, small groups enable you to share stories of island adventures with other visitors once the experience is over. You may even recognise their voices the next day!
Informative and fun
During your stargazing experience on Great Barrier Island you will become familiar with the night sky and gain astronomical knowledge. Our guides will share local knowledge and a range of multicultural stories. These will help you remember what is in the sky in a light-hearted and fun way.
A chance to connect
Take time out from your busy life and enjoy quality time under the stars with your loved one, friends or family. We're told that stargazing children often talk to their (grand)parents about the experience for days. Adults often find the peace of mindfulness under the stars. And as well as connecting with the natural world, you can chat to your local guide, and meet new people. Feel free to ask your guide everything you've always wanted to know about living on Aotea.
We love the excitement we feel when we look up and get lost in the stars. We are looking forward to sharing this feeling with you.
It is Good Heavens' mission to share the wonders of our spectacular starry sky with visitors to beautiful Aotea Great Barrier Island. Living in an International Dark Sky Sanctuary - among the darkest of all the Dark Sky Places in the world - is amazing. And it is one of the reasons we have chosen to live and work in this island sanctuary.
In addition to our sanctuary sky, Aotea boasts many other natural treasures. The island is home to plenty of endangered species, or taonga, such as banded rails, taiko, pateke and kaka. We are mindful of this fragile island ecosystem and like to tread lightly on it throughout our stargazing experiences. We consciously choose low waste, reusable and rechargeable products. Our laser pointers for example, are charged by the sun. During our experiences, we will also touch on the effects of light pollution.
Community and environment
Good Heavens supports Great Barrier Island organisations, events and education. Each year, we set a percentage of our profit aside for this purpose. We believe that in a happy and healthy community people join forces to work and learn together for the common good.
Whether your stargazing experience is a stepping stone for further exploration of the universe or a one-off experience, Good Heavens aim to give you an experience you will remember forever.
And a bit about us
Now that we’ve introduced our business, we would like to take the opportunity to introduce ourselves, the women behind Good Heavens. We are Deborah and Hilde. Often one of us will take you stargazing, but we have found some excellent, fun and personable stargazing guides who help us when it gets busy.
We started our business in 2017, when Great Barrier Island became a Dark Sky Sanctuary. At that time we believed that visitors to our island might be keen to be guided through the stars. Much to our delight, we have been able to show many stargazers our beautiful starry sky since.
Ever since we decided we’d become stargazing guides, we have been studying hard to find out what’s happening above us. We've also thought about what our stargazers may find the most interesting objects and the best stories to remember. And we are proud to share what we believe to be the most entertaining elements of our findings with you.
You can read what some thought about their experiences here.
I grew up in by the sea in Kerikeri, New Zealand, riding horses and looking up at the stars before heading off overseas for adventures through Asia, Europe, the Americas, then back home to NZ.
In 2014, my husband and I decided we wanted to live in a place that we truly loved. We wanted to create a healthy, active, sustainable life for us and our imminently arriving child. We chose Great Barrier Island. A stunningly beautiful place where we are surrounded by lush bush, sea and stars.
Prior to establishing Good Heavens with Hilde, I worked for a central bank (The Bank of England) in London for 10 years. I also worked for large corporates (Westpac and NZ Bus) for a further 4 years in Auckland, Sydney and Wellington, mainly in Change Management. This has set me up well for running a business, understanding my clients needs and creating products to meet these needs.
Stargazing fills me with so much joy. And seeing the delight our clients get when gazing up into our dark starry sky with us is just wonderful. I’m a Mum to one young boy, a keen gardener, hiker, boogie boarder and stargazer.
Owner and Director of Good Heavens
Member, Auckland Astronomical Society
BSc (Hons) Economics and Mathematical Sciences
Diploma in Financial Services and Management
I was born in the Netherlands and moved to New Zealand and Great Barrier Island in 1999 after meeting my partner on the island. Growing up in the light-polluted Netherlands, becoming an amateur astronomer was not initially on the cards. It was attending a Dark Sky Ambassadors course here on the Barrier, and seeing Saturn and Omega Centauri up close, that changed that for me.
My background lies in hospitality management, and I have worked freelance as an online translator since 2001. Hospitality is in my blood. Using language to convey the concepts of astronomy is exciting. Seeing the enjoyment our clients experience when they see these concepts illustrated through our telescopes and binoculars is heartwarming. There is so much to see, so much to learn and so much to share in our beautiful skies.
My stargazing journey has opened up a whole new dimension to me. Sharing the universe and making people feel at home in our dark sky is a real buzz to me.
I’m a mum to one teenage boy and a stepmum to two adult sons. In my spare time I love to read and learn, play games, hike, surf and spend time with my family and friends.
Owner and Director of Good Heavens
Member, Auckland Astronomical Society
BA Hotel Management (Marketing)
Graduate Diploma, Translation Studies