Naseby has achieved a significant milestone in its quest to become a “Dark Sky Approved” town.
The township has been added to the official register of the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) as a “3K Town”.
Naseby Vision secretary and resident Hilary Allison said this meant Naseby had street lights with a colour temperature of 3000deg Kelvin or less.
“What it required, which we achieved thanks to the Central Otago District Council, was a commitment in writing that Naseby will never have lighting higher than 3000 Kelvins,” Mrs Allison said.
Fewer than 40 towns worldwide are on the list, and Naseby sits alongside places such as Los Angeles, Denver, Honolulu and the Sunshine Coast in Queensland.
The only other New Zealand town on the list is Martinborough.
The CODC helped Naseby achieve the 3K status by changing all its street lights to 3000k LED.
Mayor Tim Cadogan said the Central Otago night sky was “truly breathtaking”.
“For visitors from less fortunate parts of the world, where light and atmospheric pollution limit or totally obscure the night sky, the effect is profound.”
“The recognition of Naseby as a 3K Town by the IDA is a major step in attracting tourists from around the world to our district to marvel at what our “World of Difference” has to offer,” Mr Cadogan said.
CODC roading manager Murray Hasler said the cost of replacing old streetlights with 3000k LED units was about $28,000 and they were the same price as 4000k lights.
“The 3000k lights will use slightly more electricity than the 4000k lights but in all other respects the costs are comparable.
“The low electricity use, low maintenance requirements and long life of the current generation of LED lights make them significantly lower cost than the old technology they are replacing,” Mr Hasler said.
NZ Transport Agency spokeswoman Frances Adank said the agency was aware of the IDA requests for all lighting to be less than 3000K, she said
Their guidelines were for 4000K as the best compromise for safety performance and energy use for roads used predominantly for vehicle movement.
” In many of our urban areas, spill light from open windows probably creates a greater issue than state highway road lighting.”
Mrs Allison, of Naseby Vision, said the next stage for Naseby was its aim of being a “Dark Sky Approved” town, which was a more complicated application, including commitments by homes and businesses to reduce light spill.
The application was due to be submitted shortly with the IDA.
IDA director of conservation John Barentine, of Arizona, was planning a trip to New Zealand and had tentative plans to be in Naseby on May 10-11, he said.