'Majestic' snap of Milky Way among world's best

Rachel Roberts' photo from Bluff Hut in the Southern Alps.
Rachel Roberts' photo from Bluff Hut in the Southern Alps.
A striking photo of the night sky captured by Greymouth photographer Rachel Roberts has been named as one of the best photos of the Milky Way for 2024, in a global competition.

Her entry in the Milky Way Photographer of the Year awards, run by travel photography blog Capture the Atlas, was one of 25 selected from more than 5000 entries photographed in 15 countries, from the United States to New Zealand.

The winners are released each May during peak 'Milky Way season', when the stars can best be captured in all their glory.

"It is the second year I have entered the competition," Ms Roberts said.

"I entered in 2022. I was lucky this year as my first choice of location clouded over.

"There are few places on the planet as dark as the spot where my photo was taken, which was from Bluff Hut in the Southern Alps."

She gave credit to Hokitika helicopter pilot Matt Newton, from Precision Helicopters, for selecting the location.

"I didn't know it existed and it is only accessed by a difficult hike, which I wasn't going to do, or by helicopter, and I trusted Matt to choose the best spot.

"I was able to capture the Milky Way arching majestically over the hut from one of the darkest places on the planet."

Capture the Atlas said the quality of the image, the story behind the shot, and the overall inspiration that the photograph can provide are the main factors in selecting winners every year.

"It means everything," Ms Roberts says.

"I've worked my guts out doing this but I love it, I'm dedicated and it's hard work."

Ms Roberts is now doing a photography workshop around the South Island and will soon hold a workshop on the West Coast promoting Astro photography and dark skies.