Observation Rock now open for night sky viewing on Rakiura

8 Nov 2023


A popular viewpoint for Stewart Island/Rakiura’s world renowned dark skies has officially reopened following installation of a new platform and safety barrier.

Construction of the Observation Rock viewing platform was completed earlier this month after work to improve the visitor experience and safety at the site began in July.

DOC’s Rakiura Operations Manager Jennifer Ross says following months of tough winter weather conditions, it’s great to have the platform open on time and under budget.

“We’re thrilled to have this work completed ahead of the busy summer season, giving visitors a safer place to observe the phenomenal views across Paterson Inlet during the day, and the expansive skies at night.

“We’d like to thank the community for its ongoing support and understanding as we completed this upgrade work.”

The project is a joint initiative between DOC, Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Board, Rakiura Māori Lands Trust, Southland District Council, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE), and Great South.

Observation Rock has been a viewing area for many years, with an informal track and viewing area pre-dating DOC. In recent times, it’s become increasingly popular with visitors as a great spot to view Rakiura’s night sky, which was designated as a Dark Sky Sanctuary in early 2019 by the International Dark Sky Association.

Great South Destination Development Manager Amie Young says since gaining international Dark Sky Sanctuary status, Observation Rock has been a must-visit spot for stargazers.

“It’s fantastic to see the reopening of Observation Rock viewing platform. With enhanced safety features and a revamped platform, both locals and visitors to Rakiura Stewart Island now have an ideal location to immerse themselves in the beauty of the island’s dark skies.”

The platform was initially suggested by the Stewart Island/Rakiura Community Board as a safety solution to the unprotected edge at the site.

It has been funded by contributions from the Stewart Island/Rakiura Visitor Levy, and MBIE’s Tourism Infrastructure Fund. DOC contributed funding in the early stages of the project and provided additional funding and project management until its completion.

Although the platform officially opened last week with a blessing from local kaumatua Phillip Smith, there is still some work to be completed, with interpretation panels and seating still to come.