12 Nov 2009

NZ becomes contender for world heritage site

9:00 am on 12 November 2009

The clear night sky over Tekapo is one step closer to being declared a world heritage reserve.

New Zealand's bid was one of five to be accepted at a meeting of the United Nations Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organisation (UNESCO) in the Canary Islands.

Austria, Spain, Chile and Hawaii are also on the list to go forward for final approval at the UNESCO world heritage meeting in Rio de Janeiro next year.

Former cabinet minister Margaret Austin told the conference the area around Tekapo, in the MacKenzie District, has pristine, dark unpolluted skies with one of the most accessible observatories in the world.

She says she is overwhelmed New Zealand's bid was approved without exception.