New Zealand is known as the last pure land on earth. This piece of land, sometimes forgotten on the map, contains the wide sea, steep canyons, cold glaciers, and various blue lakes that are difficult to define on the color chart… It is like a god blessed Mingzhu, lying quietly in the middle of the ocean in the southern hemisphere. Driving from the famous tourist city of Christchurch to the southwest, walking through the fairy-tale beauty for nearly 3 hours, we arrived at the small town of Tekapo, known as the “Wonderland on Earth”.
It is located in the eastern foothills of the Southern Alps in the South Island of New Zealand. It is sparsely populated and the mountains in the distance are covered with snow, like a paradise. The town is surrounded by mountains and waters, with both the mountains of the Southern Alps and the waterscape of Lake Tekapo. Interestingly, although Tekapo is small, it attracts many stargazers every year. Because this is a world-renowned star-gazing place, standing under the night sky will be surrounded by stars.
Lake Tekapo with the same name as the town is one of New Zealand’s famous lakes. I came here thinking that I stumbled upon a movie set. The snow-covered lavender mountain range is the background. The sparkling lake water is bright and varied blue. The green trees decorate the lake shore, and the lupines with purple flowers form a undulating ribbon. The beautiful and charming Lake Tekapo is surrounded by trees and snow-capped mountains that are shrouded in golden sunshine. These constitute such an idyllic scene that makes it hard to believe that there is such a place outside the cinema.
Lake Tekapo is a glacial barrier lake. It was originally an undeveloped glacier. As the glaciers in the Southern Alps melted into the lake, the rocks in the glacier were broken into fine powder. These rock powders made the water look like Like milk, the lake shone brightly by reflecting the sunlight during the day.
What’s more interesting is that the unique turquoise rocks at the bottom of Lake Tekapo make the entire lake present a kind of emerald green and dreamy scene. It is famous for its blue-green lake full of mysterious beauty and is known as beauty. Teenage girl. Lake Tekapo is unique all year round: every summer, the Lubing flowers on the lakeside bloom; in autumn, the poplar trees on the lakeside appear golden; in winter, the snowy mountains on the lakeside are covered in white clothes.
The most beautiful starry sky on earth
New Zealand is close to the Antarctic. In good weather, the Milky Way can be clearly seen with the naked eye. Tekapo is not polluted by urban light sources. After the sunset, the starry sky spread out when you look up. The night sky is quiet and dazzling, starry, and the Milky Way and large clusters of constellations are clearly visible. Here you can see the Southern Cross, which can only be observed in the southern hemisphere, and occasionally you can see meteors across the night sky, making it feel like you are in a fairy tale world.
Most of the Tekapo starry sky maps that are widely circulated on the Internet were taken near the “Good Shepherd Church”. The church at night becomes beautiful under the stars. It is a great place to take pictures of the starry sky and star trails, and it is also a place of pilgrimage for star lovers. The background starry sky of the church at night is more agile. Usually 8 to 11 in the evening is the time when the Milky Way and the church are most connected. Therefore, it is also the peak time for taking pictures. It takes patience to take good pictures. The crowd gradually dispersed after 11 o’clock. You can choose to shoot the star trails at this time.
The Milky Way is like an arch bridge. Most of the time, it will appear in two situations. One is half below the horizon, and the other half is hanging in the air; the other is hanging horizontally above the head, except with a fisheye lens. There is basically no possibility that all can be photographed. However, at certain special times, the Milky Way Arch Bridge will all appear on the horizon and close to the horizon. February of each year is the appearance time of the Milky Way Arch Bridge in New Zealand. Astronomers can use professional star observation software to accurately predict the time and location of the Milky Way Arch Bridge.
When stargazing, tourists from all over the world can’t help but exclaim: The starry sky of Tekapo is so gorgeous! At this time, you will find that the whole town is dark, all covered by the huge starry sky; the starry sky is clearly identifiable. Under the guidance of the tour guide, everyone looks up, holds their breath, and looks up, looking for the long-lost Big Dipper and the vast The Milky Way, the Southern Cross, which can only be observed in the Southern Hemisphere, and its own constellations, seem to be in a fairy tale world.
However, this beauty is not entirely natural, and the Tekapo people have made great efforts to this end. In order to maintain the beautiful night sky here, the locals began to reduce the use of lights more than 30 years ago and implement their “Starry Sky Protection Plan.” All the lights in the town are made of special materials, are inclined to the ground at a 45-degree angle, and are only 1/3 of the normal brightness, and will not scatter light to cause light pollution.
They also stipulated that the use of lights should be avoided as much as possible in places where there are no crowds, and street lights should be precisely designed so that the beams can accurately illuminate the places that need illumination without radiating to the surroundings, and all monuments or buildings should be strictly illuminated except for the sightseeing center. Increase control to reduce glare and night sky glow, and turn off landscape lights and advertising lights after midnight. At the same time, efforts are made to reduce the emission of pollutants, with the aim of hoping that the starry sky will avoid light damage and present its beauty.
The residents of Tekapo are willing to leave the darkness at night to nature, so that people can see the beautiful night sky full of stars with the best view. Not only that, New Zealand has set up the Starlight Protection Committee.
The world’s first “International Dark Sky Reserve”
Since 2005, the Mackenzie Basin, where the town is located, has submitted an application to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee to designate this sky as an “International Starry Sky Nature Reserve”, hoping to make the whole world aware of it. The importance of clear starry sky to mankind. Fortunately, this unprecedented application was approved in 2009, and Tekapo became the world’s first and so far the only “International Dark Sky Reserve”!
Simply put, this means that Mackenzie’s sky provides an excellent opportunity to watch the wonders of the universe, and it also brings some incredible conveniences that can make the best use of this dark sky.
Lake Tekapo is surrounded by towering peaks. At 1,029 meters above sea level on the top of Mount John, there is the Mount John University Observatory, a high-tech astronomy research station operated by the University of Canterbury. As one of the main goals of the Aoraki Mackenzie Reserve is to promote stargazing and astronomical observation tourism, this observatory is also open to the public. There are 6 large telescopes, including the largest telescope in New Zealand, with a diameter of 1.8 meters, which can observe 50 million stars every night in a pure night sky! This is one of the four best star-gazing spots in the world, and is recognized by astronomers around the world as the best place to observe the Milky Way and the universe.
In addition to the famous Southern Cross constellation, there are two cloud-shaped “objects” in the starry sky here, which are one of the most striking signs in the sky-the Magellan Nebula. It was first discovered by the navigator Magellan. After continuous observation by astronomers in the later period, these two misty celestial bodies in the southern sky were named “Magellan Nebula”. The large cloud group is called the “Large Magellanic Cloud” and the small cloud group is called the “Small Magellanic Cloud”. Today, the Magellan Nebula, like the Southern Cross, has become the most attractive aerial “attraction” in the Southern Hemisphere stargazing activities.
Located on the top of the mountain along with the Mount John University Observatory, there is also an ultra-modern astronomy cafe, which is the highest and the best in New Zealand. Full glass daylight, bathed in bright sunshine during the day, visitors can enjoy home-cooked food while reveling in the breathtaking mountain scenery and turquoise lake scenery; at night, accompanied by romantic stars, it feels like a dream. “Lonely Planet” magazine described this cafe as “perhaps the best place on earth for coffee.”
In fact, in addition to the gorgeous night sky, the Mount John Observatory during the day is also interesting. Visitors can enjoy the magnificent natural scenery in 360° while observing the starry sky during the day with the telescope of the observatory. When the weather is clear, they can also observe the burning fireball with a special solar telescope. After enjoying the beauty of the sky, you will admire the magic of nature even more.
If it is said that the natural lake Tekapo cannot be copied, but only the fairy tale town is exclusive, then why did we lose the brilliant starry sky above us? If people who are immersed in urban civilization can, like the Tekapo, give up the dazzling lighting and restore the hidden starry sky, they can experience the fun of stargazing at night by raising their heads; lying on their backs and watching the stars pouring down, this should be What a pleasant thing!