New Zealand is renowned for its stunning scenery, natural beauty, wondrous escapes. And, it is also one of the best places in the world to view the mind-blowing beauty of the Southern Lights.
What Are The Southern Lights?
One of nature's most stunning displays, the Southern Lights is when the sky puts on a show with the most beautiful, awe-inspiring colours that will transport you to a mystical wonderland. But, getting technical, the Southern Lights are often referred to as Aurora Australis and are electrically charged particles from solar winds reacting with the gases of the Earth.
When Is The Best Time To See The Southern Lights?
We wish we had a more solid answer for this one but the Southern Lights aren’t something that can be predicted. They show their beauty when they want to and, in the majority of cases, there's only a 30-minute warning that you'll catch a glimpse. The unexpected element makes these lights even more special and beautiful, don’t you think? What we can tell you is that winter time is when they pop up most often and the darker and clearer the night sky, the greater your chances of witnessing this spectacular sight.
Where To See The Southern Lights In New Zealand
People from all around the world came to New Zealand pre-Covid just to see this with their own eyes as not many countries get the luxury of viewing this Southern gem.
Here are some of the best places to see the Southern Lights in New Zealand.
Known for its clear blue skies in the daytime and starlit nights, Lake Tekapo is an ideal location to view the Southern Lights. Not only does this haven provide the goods with their skies, but the landscape and scenery at Lake Tekapo are also absolutely breathtaking. The waters are crystal blue and we can’t forget the infamous lilac-coloured lupin fields. Whether you’re a tourist or not, a visit to Lake Tekapo needs to be ticked off your bucket list.
The Southern Lights aren't the only treasure of The Catlins. Their clear skies are ideal for a night of romantic star gazing and we guarantee you’ll see the most stunning sunset ever, with open, cloudless skies. If getting active is more your thing, The Catlins also offers beautiful forestry, secret lakes and breathtaking waterfalls.
If you want to increase your chances of seeing the Southern Lights, you gotta head as far down South as you possibly can—and that’ll take you to Stewart Island. It is probably the most well-known place to get a view of the Southern Lights as it’s the most southern populated island in New Zealand and arguably the most accessible. Take a ferry ride to Steward Island to get in touch with your inner peace as this island is nothing but pure serenity.
It seems as though everything about Wanaka is related to the next level of beauty. Picture perfect, this Otago town could easily be a screensaver. Just a short, easy walk from the centre of Wanaka is Eely point, a boating and picnicking area and here you can soak in the spectacular light show. Should the lights decide to do a no-show, head on over to Brenmer Bay for a little night swim, just five minutes away from Eely Point.
Aoraki Mt Cook National Park
To get a good view of the Southern Lights, clear and dark night skies are a must and Aoraki Mt Cook National Park has just that. In fact, it’s actually in the Dark Sky Reserve—an international recognition for having some of the darkest skies this world has to offer! A little different to the locations mentioned above, Aoraki Mt Cook National Park is more rugged and tough but still just as stunning.
You don’t always need to head to the South Island to get a glimpse of the Southern Lights. If you’re lucky enough, Breaker Bay in Wellington catches some mighty fine views of the lights. Even if you can’t catch the lights, you won’t regret making your way to Breaker Bay as the beach is an idyllic paradise and the calm blue waters and pure white sand will have you in awe.
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Image credit: Supplied