The recent announcement of the launch of a night-time experience at the famous Takapō (Lake Tekapo) heritage site is a great example of how a destination management approach can produce a sustainable solution for tourism.
The Church of the Good Shepherd and Earth & Sky have partnered together to create the guided tours and are the church’s answer to sharing the stunning night-time views and experience of the grounds with the public, while protecting the natural landscape for future generations.
The church made the decision to close public access to the grounds at night indefinitely in December 2017, due to on-going destruction of the land by people accessing the grounds unguided.
“The Church of the Good Shepherd is famous for its astro-photography and star-gazing, where on a clear night the Milky Way galaxy displays an extraordinary backdrop to the little stone church,” says McDonald.
“Unfortunately, open public access was causing a lot of damage to the site at night. The land surrounding the church is a majestic heritage site and we believe in the importance of maintaining it for the future.
“We knew we wanted to continue to allow access to this beautiful part of Aotearoa, and decided working with a partner who could facilitate and manage tours of the site was the right approach."
The Church Night Tour will take visitors on a journey of exploration, revelation and serenity, with naked-eye stargazing, storytelling, astro-photography and an opportunity for reflection. A professional astro-photographer will also help visitors as they take photos around the church.
Earth & Sky guides will deliver the Church of the Good Shepherd tours. Earth & Sky deliver stargazing and observatory tours in Takapō.
Tours will be piloted for six months starting from the 1st September and will be made a permanent experience if successful.
Destination management involves thinking holistically about visitors and regions to minimise the potential negative impacts of tourism on the environment and on host communities.
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