Hong Kong student Wing Ki Lam says she’ll never forget joining her classmates to lie on the grass and gaze up at the southern sky at night.
Wing Ki visited Mt John Observatory as part of a three-day trip for international students at Dunedin’s Bayfield High School. The observatory is within the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve, one of the best places in the world to go stargazing.
“I’ve never seen so many stars before, and they were so pretty. I could never have done this back home because of the light pollution,” says Wing Ki.
“In Hong Kong everything happens in the classroom. It’s good that in New Zealand we can learn in nature.”
Wing Ki is now planning to go skydiving to celebrate her 18th birthday.
Bayfield runs three annual trips that give international students the chance to try skiing, ice skating, jet boating and bungy jumping, and to explore environments as diverse as glaciers and glow worm caves.
Ewen Cameron, Bayfield’s Director of International students, says the school makes it a priority to encourage students to have new experiences in the outdoors.
“We don’t want our students to only learn in the classroom environment,” he says.
Ewen says many of Bayfield’s international students developed an interest in astronomy after the Mt John Observatory visit, especially after witnessing a shower of shooting stars.
The South Island is the ideal location for students who want to take their stargazing to the next level — the University of Canterbury offers the study of astronomy at all levels, and has a field station in Antarctica.