This week’s HOT SPOT Great Bar­rier

Aotea seems an ideal place to cel­e­brate Matariki.

Sunday Star-Times - - CHECK-IN -

Matariki trans­lates as ‘‘eyes of god’’ or ‘‘lit­tle eyes’’.

Des­ig­nated as a Dark Sky Sanc­tu­ary by the In­ter­na­tional Dark Sky As­so­ci­a­tion in June 2017, Great Bar­rier Is­land (Aotea) is host­ing a fes­ti­val from June 29 un­til July 1 to mark the oc­ca­sion, in­cor­po­rat­ing star gaz­ing, art ex­hi­bi­tions, photography workshops, rocket mak­ing, as­tron­omy talks, moon danc­ing, and a twi­light ball.

The inau­gu­ral fes­ti­val co­in­cides with Mars com­ing closer to Earth than it has since 2003 and, with the lack of light pol­lu­tion, you’re all but guar­an­teed a stel­lar view.

Less than 100km from Auck­land, the is­land pro­vides per­fect respite from the stresses of mod­ern life.

Ex­plore its forests, beaches and bays, have a soak in the se­cluded nat­u­ral hot springs and take in night skies deemed some of the most spec­tac­u­lar on the planet.

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