They look like a mass of Christmas decorations strung around the world, incredible photos of the colourful night sky above New Zealand.

This is one - the snow-covered limestone rocks of Canterbury's Castle Hill illuminated by an arch-shaped Milky Way and shot by semi-professional Christchurch photographer Paul Wilson.

The picture is among dozens of dazzling images captured by the 29-year-old; others celebrate the kaleidoscope of colours from the Southern Lights or the reflection of stars on a waterway.

Wilson told the Herald on Sunday he captured the beauty of the night sky by using a long exposure - sometimes as long as an hour.

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"I do like the science part of it, but I still like the taking of the photos too."

The colours look so good because at night the eye can't see colours as well as the camera.

His Castle Hill shoot lasted all night, Wilson said. "This was taken just as the moon was setting, the light giving the rocks a defined edge."