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5 Places to See The Southern Lights in New Zealand

Chris-Stephenson, Tourism NZ

Where to see Aurora Australis in New Zealand.

Aurora Australis is known to light up New Zealand’s skies with green and pink displays. Solar wind reacts with the gases in our atmosphere, which creates the electrical wonder commonly known as The Southern Lights. The aurora is a rare sight to see mainly because it is difficult to get far enough south (although on rare occasions, it does make its way to the North Island).

New Zealand is one of the closest countries to the South Pole where the aurora originates, so if you head far enough south on your backpacker travels, you might just see a light show like no other!

Read more about the best times and locations for Southern Light viewing in New Zealand here.

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1. Stewart Island

Of course, New Zealand’s third and most southern populated island is the best place to see The Southern Lights, that is easily accessible. Find out more about how to get there in Stewart Island – Guide for Backpackers or just let this picture do the talking:

Mozasaur

2. Lake Tekapo

This area in the centre of the South Island usually gets clear skies for some amazing Aurora Australis displays. In fact, Lake Tekapo and the surrounding Mackenzie region is an internationally recognised Dark Sky Reserve meaning it is one of the best places in the world to stargaze, and in turn, see the Southern Lights. You can always head to higher ground in the surrounding mountains for better views. Find out more in Lake Tekapo – Guide for Backpackers.

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3. The Catlins

The Catlins is at the very south of the South Island. A combination of a clear night and heading away from any other polluting light could well give you a spectacular view of the green and pink hue in the sky. Stargaze from one of the awesome camping grounds and freedom camping areas in the Catlins. Find out more in Camping in The Catlins.

KoenbrNZ

4. Invercargill

Shocker: this is another southern area in the South Island, which equals Southern Light views from time to time. You’re best chances of seeing the aurora is by getting away from the city lights of Invercargill. For more info, see Southland – Guide for Backpackers.

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5. Dunedin

Ok, you might have to be really lucky to see the lights from Dunedin. Nevertheless, The Southern Lights have been known to light up the sky for Dunedin to see. The best places to catch a glimpse of the Auroras are at Hoopers Inlet on the Otago Peninsula. For more info, see Dunedin – Guide For Backpackers.

Chris-Stephenson, Tourism NZ

What are the perfect conditions to see Aurora Australis?

With the perfect weather, time of day and solar activity, you can get the perfect viewing of The Southern Lights. Check out:

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