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Lighting and the Aoraki Dark Sky Reserve

The night sky and the ability to see celestial objects are a taonga (treasure).

Lighting and the Aoraki Dark Sky Reserve

The night sky and the ability to see celestial objects are a taonga (treasure). Artificial outdoor lighting has enabled activities to occur beyond daylight hours. However, the resulting light pollution can have an adverse effect on our ability to view the night sky, negatively impact ecological integrity and the preservation of cultural astronomical traditions, among many other effects.

Ensuring glare, skyglow, light trespass and clutter are reduced or eliminated safeguards the work of University of Canterbury’s Mt John Observatory. Protecting the night sky and preserving it for the future is the responsibility of everyone who cherishes the Mackenzie District – residents and visitors.

Plan Change 22 – Lighting applies to artificial lighting within the entire Mackenzie District, including skylights. The provisions for lighting seek to provide for adequate lighting to support activities and provide a safe environment, while protecting the values of the night sky and minimising potential adverse effects beyond the site. The objectives, policies, and rules can be found here. - PDF, 414.45 KB

Examples of acceptable and non-acceptable lighting can be found below .

The Mackenzie District is the proud home of the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve (“AMIDSR”) – the world’s largest gold standard International Dark Sky Reserve. AMIDSR is managed by a dedicated board of directors, not the Mackenzie District Council. For more information about the reserve or Dark Sky Friendly Certification of enterprises in the reserve, please visit

Outdoor Lighting Examples

Please be advised that we cannot recommend specific brands or models of outdoor lighting. Instead, we have compiled examples of acceptable and non-acceptable outdoor lighting.


  • 100% Downward Facing
  • Shaded to cover the light from above and the sides
  • Flat glass to prevent upwards light scatter

Acceptable lighting

Not Acceptable

  • Glass scatters the light
  • Light is not shaded, or shade is tilted
  • Light protrudes from below the shade

Not acceptable lighting

For more information and the specific lighting rules (motion sensors, timing, etc) please refer to the lighting chapter of the District Plan.

Sky lights

Skylights can emit internal light, adding to light pollution. The proposed changes to the District Plan include a rule requiring skylights to be shielded from 10 pm. Compliance can be achieved through blinds and window coverings or glass that does not emit internal light.


Lighting of signage

Signs are an important tool for our community. However, the illumination of signage can affect road safety as well as the night sky. Signs must also comply with the lighting rules and standards of the Mackenzie District Plan.

Please contact the Planning Team at if you have any questions.