Skylark Cabin is the perfect place to see the stars

Sharing is caring!

There is no shortage of incredible stargazing around New Zealand.

With a population of only about five million, we don’t have much light pollution compared to other countries. The bright lights of cities and towns with their homes, street lights and even the lights of football fields make it much more difficult to see the stars at night. It is the same with the moon; the best stargazing is during a new moon when there is no moonlight to dim the stars.

Growing up on America’s urban east coast, my memories of stargazing are perhaps seeing a handful of stars at night. Not much, that’s for sure. When I moved to New Zealand, I remember camping and waking up to see so many stars they didn’t look real, like someone had painted the sky. When you’ve grown up in cities and you get out into the wilderness and see the night sky properly for the first time, it’s really powerful.

You can almost always clearly see the Milky Way here and many other remarkable constellations that can only be seen in the Southern Hemisphere, including the Southern Cross to the Magellanic Clouds.

The green light in the picture comes from my head light as I moved in front of the camera during the long exposure.

lark hut

lark hut

And while there is generally incredible stargazing around New Zealand, the absolute best spot is in the center of town The South Island.

The Mackenzie region is home to the largest dark sky reserve in the Southern Hemisphere. A decade ago, 4,300 square kilometers were declared protected by Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, which strictly controls light pollution in the area. One of only eight dark sky reserves in the world, it is also home to one of New Zealand’s most famous astronomical research facilities, Mt. John Observatory.

You will notice in towns like Tekapo that the street lights are dull orange and point down; one of the main ways they limit light pollution from blocking the dark night sky.

lark hut

I am wearing merino wool sweater from the eco-friendly kiwi brand Allbirds. This area is home to many merino sheep stations.

lark hut

lark hut

Nearby Tekapo is one of my favorite small towns in the South Island – Twizel. Or if you’re a nerd like me, Gondor. Many of the fight scenes from Lord of the Rings’ third movie, The Return of the King, was filmed here. And almost every horse and man for a hundred miles were extras, too.

Twizel is one of my favorite places, especially on the backside towards the Ben Ohau Ranges. It feels like Middle Earth here, with great epic skies and tussocked mountains. Lots of merino sheep. I find peace in open spaces like the Mackenzie country, which give my brain a bit of a breather.

When my massage therapist/friend Liz in Christchurch mentioned that she and her partner had just built a designer lodge out near Twizel and offered me to stay, I jumped at the chance. Before the break up my partner and I at the time were on the rocks and fighting a lot and I combined it with a trip to see my friends in Wanaka. It was nice to get away and do some (painful) thinking and writing.

lark hut

lark hut

lark hut

I have followed the growth around Twizel with great interest over the years. When I first moved to the South Island, it was very small, with many bachs (holiday houses) in the town.

In recent years, more and more cottages and houses are being built around Twizel on lifestyle blocks. Lifestyle blocks are not something I had ever heard of before moving here. But from my understanding it is a block of land that is bigger than a regular residential lot but smaller than a farm. Generally, you don’t see your neighbor’s houses; but they’re not that far away, and you’ll probably have to mow your lawn with a riding mower. Google told me that the average lifestyle block is four hectares or 10 acres. Either way, I can’t afford one right now.

Kiwis, I know I can count on you to correct me if I’m wrong.

lark hut

lark hut

lark hut

Why am I crying about lifestyle blocks? Well, many of the new houses built on the outskirts of Twizel are on lifestyle blocks, including my friend Liz’s new place – Skylark Cabin.

pIt was so cool to live in such a cool design house here to go off the grid and write! With a large round skylight above the bed made for stargazing – I found myself putting on my glasses repeatedly during the night to look at the Milky Way (thanks insomnia).

I love staying in thoughtful, creative spaces. And I love staying in architecturally creative and modern spaces that still feel welcoming and cozy. It’s easy to build a cookie house here in New Zealand, especially with the current building boom. But to create a place that reflects the history of the country, the heritage of the area and offers the best of the best, well, now that’s hard.

Skylark Cabin definitely ticked all those boxes and more – no wonder it’s always booked out! Plan ahead, team!

lark hut

lark hut

Nestled gently among the tufts against the backdrop of the Ben Ohau Mountains, Skylark couldn’t be more picturesque. Built in 2020, Skylark Cabin was thoughtfully designed by award-winning architect Barry Connor. His style allows you to make the most of the mighty landscape of the Mackenzie Basin.

High and dry, this part of New Zealand often gets the most snow. It is not unusual for the area to be covered in white in winter. Think wide open skies, epic sunsets, freezing winters and scorching hot summers. The Mackenzie area is bright, colorful and extreme in every way.

When I live in a place like Løvlarkehytten, I don’t like to leave, so I bring all the food I need for a few days. That way I can make the most of the epic location and the modern kitchen. I usually stop at Four Square in Twizel to grab what I need, but here are some places I return to again and again.

  • Brekkie, brunch or lunch – My favorite was Shawty’s, but it looks like it just closed. Damn! I have always had good service, good food and good coffee at Valmuer and Mønstringhytten
  • Dinner – Ministry of Labour

lark hut

lark hut

When I first stepped into the Skylark Cabin, I felt my body heave a sigh of relief. I didn’t realize I was so stressed and wound up. It was just so lovely, cozy and the perfect size. It was after dark, so I hadn’t laid down yet. Once I got the fire going, I started to settle. I made fresh pasta, put on my pajamas and curled up on the couch to watch a Dolly Parton documentary. Sky.

Outside they had one of the amazing ones Heated hot tubs, which you bet I budget my mortgage one day. There is nothing quite as wonderful for the soul as soaking in an outdoor bath in a beautiful location.

Unless you soak in the spa at night under the stars. 10/10 I would recommend.

lark hut

lark hut

lark hut

I spent four days relaxing at Skylark which did wonders for my soul. In retrospect, I wonder if I knew what storm was coming at me less than a month later.

I spent my mornings reading and writing, my afternoons walking in the area and my evenings stargazing. If there was a formula to reset yourself, this could be it. You’re welcome. Now I’m going to message Liz and see when I can book my next session here.

Have you ever gone stargazing before? Have you been to Twizel? Desire? Tell me in the comments!

Many thanks to Skylark Cabin for hosting me in Twizel. As always, I keep it real. All opinions are my own, just as you could expect less from me.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.