In this episode of Trip Notes, we are taking a new approach to keeping your travel dreams alive, writes Juliette Sivertsen.

While New Zealand is in lockdown, our celebrity guests are unable to travel into our studio to record.

But the lockdown hasn't stopped us coming up with original ways to continue producing the content you know and love.

We already have an abundance of travel stories that have been published over the years, so we have decided to bring some of them back in a revamped edition of the Trip Notes podcast.


In this episode, I revisit a story written by Herald journalist Kirsty Johnston, about her experience in Niue.

Published in September 2019, 'Eclipse of the Heart' follows Johnston's efforts to view a partial eclipse from the tropical island, at a time when Niue was trying to be declared a 'Dark Sky Place' by the International Dark-Sky Association.

In March this year, Niue achieved its goal, becoming the first nation in the world to do so.

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Niue is the world’s first country to become an official Dark Sky Place! We’ve received formal accreditation from the @idadarksky as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary and International Dark Sky Community, covering the whole country with Dark Sky protection and recognition and deeming it a ‘dark sky nation’. The stars and night sky have a huge significance to the Niuean way of life, from a cultural, environmental and health perspective. Niueans have a long history of star navigation and a life regulated by lunar cycles and star positions. The knowledge of the night skies, held by the elders in the community, has been passed down through the generations. Niuean elders now hope the passion to learn the cultural history of the stars is re-ignited in younger generations. Visitors to Niue can view the spectacle of an unspoilt night sky in our temperate tropical climate, with guided Astro-tours led by trained Niuean community members. Niue now has formal protection for its sky, land and sea with the IDA International Dark Sky designations adding to the existing measures including a marine reserve which encompasses 40% of Niue's exclusive economic zone and the Huvalu Forest Conservation Area which contains some of the most threatened flora and fauna in the world. . . . #Niue #NiueIsland #idadarksky #darksky #DarkSkyNation #DarkSkyPlace #DarkSkySanctuary #astrophotography #naturephoto #travelphotography #nightphotography #astrophotography #nightscape #nightlandscape #nightshots #milkywaygalaxy #astropy #milkyway #nightsky #stargazer #stargazing #bestdarkphoto #nightskyphotography #nightphotograpy #nightphotos #milkywayphotography #astro_photography #natgeospace #SouthPacific #NowhereLikeNiue

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Johnston's story recounts what it was like to view a partial eclipse from the island, prior to Niue receiving the status of Dark Sky Place.

"As the time for the eclipse grows nearer, we are given special glasses with solar filters for our eyes. I put them on, and everything is black. I take them off again and look at the clouds. We wait. And wait. I drink all my champagne and feel my heart rate increase, so I have another to calm down. I know the time for the eclipse has begun, but no one says anything," she writes.

Sit back in your armchair, close your eyes and listen to the episode to hear the full story.

Trip Notes is available to download at iHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcasts. Photo / Supplied
Trip Notes is available to download at iHeartRadio, or wherever you get your podcasts. Photo / Supplied

Go to to catch up on any episodes you might have missed.