The Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights, is one of nature’s most impressive displays. Because these lights are can only be seen over the southern polar region, it can be difficult to find a good location to see this remarkable spectacle. The Antarctic region is surrounded by vast expanses of ocean with little landform. The best time for viewing is in the winter months, so head south from May through to September. The long hours of darkness in the winter months increases your chance of sighting these spectacular lights.
Stewart Island, New Zealand
Located off the southern tip of the South Island of New Zealand, great viewing can be seen from Rakiura National Park, which actually means ‘land of the glowing skies’ in the Maori language. There is a wide choice of accommodation and the winter months are best for viewing.
A cruise ship
Some companies offer cruises just to see the Aurora Australis. Bear in mind, this will be during the winter months, when the skies are clear and the periods of darkness are longer. Winter cruising can be inhospitable with howling winds pounding the ship, but it is also a great way to get a little closer to these elusive lights.
Located closer to Antarctica than Stewart Island or Tasmania, this is a spot where you may get to see the southern lights. Being at the southern tip of Argentina, it is easy to get there and stay there. Provided the weather is right, during winter there is 17 hours of darkness, which makes it favourable for viewing.
The Falkland Islands
Situated 400 miles off the coast of South America, this is a region of immense beauty. It is also well known for its wildlife colonies. This is great place to see the Aurora Australis and in 2010 Falkland engineers installed a monitoring system to record the activity of the Aurora. Best times for viewing are April to August.
The best spot to view the lights would be on an Antarctic ice floe, but this is actually quite unrealistic. On Antarctica the lights are most active and most visible. However, with temperatures well below minus, dangerous icebergs and ferocious winds, the winter months can be treacherous. There are ways of getting there, and you can be assured that the light show will be fantastic, but this is a journey for the true explorer only. You could try to grab a spot at one of the research stations.
When making your travel arrangements, remember that the Aurora Australis runs on a cycle. Check out the Aurora forecasts, where you may be able to get some idea of the activity of the Aurora. Even if you are not a nature enthusiast, chasing the Aurora and seeing this wonderful display for yourself, will leave you in awe. When magnetism and atmosphere clash at the lowest and highest latitudes on the planet, the sky is transformed into a fusion of red, pink, green and sometimes purple. Not many people get this opportunity, so why not contact www.flightcentre.com.au who can arrange travel requirements specifically suited to seeing the Aurora Australis.