Matariki: How to find the star cluster in the winter sky

The Matariki star cluster. You can only see the seven brightest stars with the naked eye.

Matariki: How to find the star cluster in the winter sky

This Friday is the first time we will celebrate the rise of Matariki as a nation with a public holiday. If you ask us, it's a perfect time to acquaint yourself with the stars that announce the new year in te ao Māori.

You can see the Matariki star cluster in the sky now. Well, perhaps not right now, depending on what time of day you're reading this, but this is the right time of year to catch it popping up over the horizon.

To get a good view of this constellation, you'll need to get up before dawn. The good news is that the sun comes up late right now so you don't have to get up at an ungodly hour – between 5:30 and 6:30am is perfect.

We recommend getting up early, donning some woolies, filling your themos with hot choccy, and heading somewhere coastal or up high. You want a good view to the north and east.

You're looking for a group of seven stars visible with the naked eye (you can see a lot more with a telescope). To find them, start by spotting 'the pot' or Orion's Belt (the bottom three stars of the pot are known as Tautoru) in the east not far above the horizon. A little to the north of there, you'll see a bright orange star – this is Taumata-kuku. Draw an imaginary line between Tautoru and Taumata-kuku, then keep following that line further to the north until you hit a cluster of bright stars. Congratulations! You've found Matariki.


NZ Info, What's On

What's Hot New Zealand Newsletter

Stay in the loop with all the latest food, fashion, trends, events and more. Delivered hot to your inbox every month.