Different Stargazing Experiences on Aotea Great Barrier Island
Guaranteed magnificient skies
Aotea Great Barrier Island is a Dark Sky Sanctuary. This means it has spectacular skies for stargazing. If you are coming to the island, why not indulge in a guided stargazing experience? If you'd like a stargazing experience in a pristine seaside environment with a high level of comfort and care consider Good Heavens. You. To cater for all wishes, Good Heavens offer a choice of three different stargazing experiences. You may want to ponder which one is perfect for you before you book your flights and accommodation.
A choice of three
When you come stargazing with Good Heavens on Aotea Great Barrier Island, you have the choice of three different types of Experiences. There are two types of group experiences that everyone can join; our Moon Walks and our Look Up and Get Lost experiences. And then there’s our private Experience, Heavens Above. So how are these experiences different? What are their similarities and what is the most suitable Experience for you and your team?
Similar content between the tour types, but different throughout the year.
The content of our different stargazing experiences and the objects viewed are very similar in any given week. They do vary quite a bit throughout the year, however. This means that a stargazing experience in the middle of winter is quite different from the middle of summer. Not just because of the temperature, but because a different set of stellar objects is cycling through the sky throughout the year. So what’s visible in the evening sky varies throughout the seasons. If you have a specific object or constellation you would like to see check with us which season is best for you. We are happy to recommend the best dates.
The location for our group experiences is usually on a sand dune in Medlands Beach. This location is fifty meters from the car park, and there is a public toilet close by. Your guide will be at this location around 20 minutes before the start time. Arriving early gives you the opportunity to go for a stroll on the beach before the experience starts. It's a magic time when the stars become visible one by one in the sky above.
The maximum group size for our experience is 10-12 people. We want to make sure that everyone can easily hear, but also communicate with their guide. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. There is a minimum number of 4 participants for our group experiences throughout the year. If you book in solo, your booking will be pending until another 3 people have booked in.
Our Moon Walk group experience takes place when the moon is large in the evening sky. This is the case around nine days of the month. At the time of a Moon Walk, the moon is illuminated 50% or more. This happens in the week leading up to the full moon. At that time, it's waxing from 50-100%. It is also this bright the two days after the full moon, when it’s starting to wane, but still large in the evening sky. During these nine evenings each month, the natural light from the moon is very bright. The effect is that fainter celestial objects, such as the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds are less visible to the naked eye.
Moon light shimmering on the ocean.
Our moon is amazing to observe up close, through our binoculars and our 8” telescope. It's also an amazing time to lean back in your moon chair, and bath in the light of the moon. Or you could gaze out over the ocean, while the moonlight shimmers on the waves. Brighter objects and constellations are visible during this time, so this is basically a full tour, without the Milky Way, but with a focus on the moon.
Look Up and Get Lost
Look Up and Get Lost is our other group experience, that anyone can join in with. This experience takes place during the darkest time of the month, when the moon is no more than 50% illuminated. Time your visit to Great Barrier Island to this experience if you are specifically interested in seeing the Milky Way and the Magellanic Clouds. Also note that the moon is not visible in the evening sky during the darkest time of the month, before the new moon.
Heavens above is our private experience. Depending on the time of the month you are on the island, this experience can have either a Moon or Milky Way focus. Private experiences are particularly suitable for, parents with small children, parents with bigger children who have lots of questions. But also consider this experience for groups of family, friends and colleagues. And if you want to bring an interpreter or some beverages along, than this is the experience for you, as well.
In your chosen location
These experiences can take place along Medlands Beach or at your accommodation. In this case, your accommodation needs to have a clear view of the sky and be either in Tryphena or at Medlands/Okupu. A small extra charge applies for us to come to you, as we need to check out if your place is suitable. The availability of private experiences is limited, so book early if you are keen to have this experience, with a guide exclusively for your group.