Where to See Aurora Australis in NZ
Away from the main cities, New Zealand’s “velvety black skies are a milky swirl of celestial galaxies story,” writes Kate Springer in an article for CNN. “And then there’s the ethereal glow of the Aurora Australis, the southern hemisphere’s equivalent of the Aurora Borealis.”
“New Zealand is a brilliant place for stargazing, because you actually see the aurora quite a lot in this part of the world,” said Dr. Ian Griffin, an award-winning British astronomer and director of the Otago Museum, who says he has seen the Aurora Australis at least 200 times over the past five years.
“Our remote location and the fact that there are only 4 million people living in an area the size of the United Kingdom mean that it is very easy to get away from bright city lights and find a dark location from where you can enjoy lovely views of the night sky.”
Griffin shares his favorite places to observe the Milky Way and Southern Lights with CNN. He also notes that the lights are “most prominent from March to September.”
One of his favorites is Lake Tekapo, a “mountain-ringed” lake that “has become synonymous with star-gazing.”
“The Earth and Sky center at Mt. John Observatory offers visitors access to very powerful telescopes with which you can get great views of the night sky against a brilliant southern Alpine backdrop,” said Griffin.
“I have watched an aurora wearing shorts and sandals, something that only the most hardy Northern Hemisphere observer can do.”
Other places he recommends are Stewart Island, the Otago Peninsula, the Catlins, the Chatham Islands and Naseby in Central Otago.
“For the very best southern lights views, Griffin suggests ditching land-locked tours all together and heading to the source onboard the Flight of the Lights – an experience organized each year by Otago Museum,” reports the article.
“Over the past two years, passengers on the flight (all of whom get a window seat) have voyaged thousands of kilometers south of New Zealand into the heart of the auroral zone, where they get up close and personal with the Aurora Australis from the comfort of an Air New Zealand Dreamliner. The massive windows provide perfect views of the aurora.”
Article Source: CNN Travel, Kate Springer, June 27, 2018
Image Source: Youtube