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Wai-iti Dark Sky Park

The Wai-iti Dark Sky Park comprises about 135ha made up of the Wai-iti Recreation Reserve and Tunnicliff Forest, owned by the Tasman District Council. It is a designated Dark Sky Park recognised by the International Dark Sky Association.

Wai-iti Dark Sky Park is located near State Highway 6 and beside the Wai-iti River at 437 Wakefield-Kohatu Highway, Wai-Iti, Wakefield 7095. It is 5km from the village of Wakefield, about 15km from Brightwater, about 20km from Richmond and about 33km from Nelson, providing easy access to these communities.

Wai-iti Dark Sky Park has no power and no lighting fixtures. The average night sky quality has been measured at 21.52 mag/arcsec^2, which means it has beautiful, clear, dark skies.

A Dark Sky Park is valuable for pure enjoyment, scientific research, education about the universe, astronomy, astrophotography, teaching traditional navigation, preservation of night life (about half of all life on earth starts its day at sundown), highlighting the importance of preserving the night sky for present and future generations, and a place to teach and educate the community about the importance of a natural dark night sky for all wildlife and our own health.

This illustration from shows the position of Wai-iti Dark Sky Park (small red square) relative to nearby urban light pollution sources.



In June 1898 J Gaukrodger and others met to acquire a recreation reserve and trustees were elected. Members were gazetted on 17th Oct 1898.  They formed what was then known as the “Wai-iti Domain Board” and administered the Domain as publicly elected members. The Domain Board administered the area until 1982.


The railway was completed from Nelson to just south of Wai-iti to Foxhill by late 1872. The rail line was laid through the Domain. After the domain was opened, it became a popular destination as a day trip from Nelson. Families, on the weekend, made this a picnic day by “rail adventure”. Before World War Two a day out on an excursion train was a feature of living in Nelson.


In 1982 all domains ceased being under the control of local boards, under the Lands and Survey Department, and were to be administered by local authorities. The Tasman District Council took over control on the Domain, and renamed it “The Wai-iti Recreation Reserve.”

In the Māori language,  Wai means water, and iti means little, as in small. So, literally, Wai-iti means the place of little (or small) waters.


Site Characteristics

The urban areas to the north of Wai-iti DSP are light pollution sources: Wakefield, Brightwater, Richmond and Nelson. 

Other potential sources of light pollution include the Tapawera township, the Goldpine Post timber yard between Hiwipango and Korere, the Eves Valley Sawmill west of Brightwater and the MDF/laminated timber plant west of Richmond.

There is one streetlight between Foxhill and Wakefield, at the junction of Trass Valley Rd and SH6. It is fully shielded.

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