Now you’ve probably heard people talk about the northern lights a million and one times, but did you know that there are also southern lights too? Well if you didn’t before, then you do now! If you’d like to check out the beauty for yourself, then you’ll have to head on down to New Zealand to catch this dazzling spectacle.
What And When Are The Southern Lights?
The southern lights, also known as the Aurora Australis, are much like the Aurora Borealis in that electrically charged particles from solar winds react with the gases of the earth to create wondrous natural light shows in the sky.
Generally, the best time to catch a glimpse of this display would be in New Zealand's winter time, which would be in American summer, but the lights are incredibly unpredictable. You’ll usually only be able to get a 30-minute warning before the show starts and the visibility will increase the darker and clearer the sky is, but where are good places to get a look?
1. Lake Tekapo - Canterbury
This area is known for its clear blue skies in the day and it’s star streaked skies in the evening, but it’s also an ideal place to view the southern lights. Plus its lilac-colored lupin fields, as well as the crystal blue waters, are worthwhile to check off your bucket list regardless of the time of day.
2. The Catlins - Otago
You’ll be sure to get a great view of the southern lights from here, but the Catlins have even more to offer. You can catch stunning sunsets, go stargazing, and there are even secret lakes and breathtaking waterfalls to check out if you’re looking to explore a bit.
3. Stewart Island/Rakiura - Stewart Island
The further down south you go, the more likely it is, that you’ll be able to see the southern lights, so Steward Island is the place to be. It is the most well-renowned area to catch a glimpse of the Aurora Australis and it is well populated, so a quick ferry ride will get you there in no time.
4. Eely Point - Wanaka
This place is known for its picturesque beauty and it’s just a short walk from the center of Wanaka. Eely point boasts a boating and picnic area that are perfect spots to soak in the glory of the southern lights. However, if the lights pull a no-show, then you can head over to Bremner Bay for a quick dip, as it’s only five minutes away.
5. Aoraki Mt. Cook National Park - Canterbury
If you want to see the southern lights, then clear dark skies are exactly what you need to see the most vivid light show — and Mt. Cook can provide just that. This National Park is actually part of the Dark Sky Reserve, which is an international recognition for having some of the darkest skies the globe has to offer. Although the National Park is a bit more rugged and tough to navigate, it is still extremely beautiful and well worth a visit!
6. Breaker Bay - Wellington
Going to the most southern part of the island isn’t the only way to catch the lights. If you’re lucky enough, then you should be able to catch a pretty good view of them at Breaker Bay. This beautiful beach paradise can host some pretty decent views of the Aurora Australis, but even if they don’t show, you won’t regret checking out the crystal blue waters and white sand of this amazing beach.
Then check out our suggestions for New Zealand destinations!
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