The Proposed Private Plan Change

Help Kaikōura become a Dark Sky Sanctuary – The Dark Sky Plan Change 

The Kaikōura Dark Sky Trust (Trust) is about to apply to the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) to certify the Kaikōura District as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary (IDSS) which will bring environmental, social, economic and cultural benefits to the people in our district. 

Managing light pollution better will help us become a Dark Sky Sanctuary.

Light pollution is the biggest problem for an International Dark Sky Sanctuary and in order to reduce it and protect our night sky we need to make sure outdoor lighting is ‘managed’ in the district. 

Why is a change to the District Plan required? 

The Kaikōura District Plan is a public document that guides how we manage activities and environmental impacts (like outdoor lighting) in our district. District plans are reviewed approximately every ten years, but councils or individuals/groups can initiate ‘plan changes’ between the major reviews. This helps keep the plan current and respond to opportunities like the dark sky certification. 

The current district plan provisions do not address light pollution that affects the brightness and clarity of the night sky. The current provisions also do not meet IDA requirements for dark sky sanctuary certification. 

The Trust would therefore like to add and change some objectives, policies, and rules (collectively called ‘provisions’) in the Kaikōura District Plan so light pollution can be managed better. 

What changes will be proposed to the District Plan?

To meet the IDA requirements for an IDSS, we need provisions in the district plan to:

  • Recognise the natural value of the night sky is important to our district and needs protection.
  • Ensure that any outdoor lighting is shielded so light goes out and down, not out and up! 
  • Make sure the ‘colour temperature’ of new outdoor lighting is 3000 Kelvin and under (warm not cold).
  • Introduce some rules that manage illuminated signage.

There will be exemptions to the above if the outdoor lighting is on a sensor/timer of five-minutes or less. 

It is important to note that any new provisions would not apply to existing lighting. If you add to your  lighting, then the new provisions would apply. However, people are encouraged to change their lighting to meet these new standards and help reduce light pollution in the district. 

What is the District Plan change process?

The Trust is currently in the process of preparing a private plan change. This work will include: 

  • the changes that we need to make to the district plan to become a dark sky sanctuary, and  
  • a report (s32 of the RMA) that explains the reasoning behind the proposed changes and considers costs and benefits.

Once ready, the Trust will submit the plan change to Kaikōura District Council. 

This plan change will be publicly notified and anyone can make a submission on it. 

The submissions will be considered at a hearing by a hearing panel (chosen by the Council), who will issue a decision on the plan change. If parties disagree with the decision an option exists to appeal to the Environment Court. 

The timeline 

How can you be involved?

Now – If you have any thoughts or questions, we would love to hear them now so we can address them as we prepare the plan change. Email

Plan change submissions – Later in the year the plan change will be publicly notified and we encourage you to make a submission, hopefully in support of the good work we are doing. Submissions on the plan change should be sent to Kaikōura District Council, who will consider all submissions when making their decision on the plan change.

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