Best places to see the Southern Lights including Australia and New Zealand

Noble Horvath

Gallery: Climbing Ben Nevis: In photos (including the all-important view from the top) (Country Living (UK)) The Northern Lights are on most people’s bucket lists – but the Aurora Borealis isn’t the only phenomenon of its kind. The Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, is an equally spectacular […]

Gallery: Climbing Ben Nevis: In photos (including the all-important view from the top) (Country Living (UK))

The Northern Lights are on most people’s bucket lists – but the Aurora Borealis isn’t the only phenomenon of its kind.

The Aurora Australis, also known as the Southern Lights, is an equally spectacular sight, transforming night skies into enchanting scenes filled with colour.

Whether you’ve already ticked the Northern Lights off the bucket list, or whether you’re looking for more inspiration for future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Some of the best spots for seeing the Southern Lights are across Australia and New Zealand, so we’ve put together a guide explaining which locations need to be on your radar.

Check out our guide to the Southern Lights below…

(We know long-haul travel isn’t exactly feasible during the pandemic – but it doesn’t hurt to dream a little!).

Best time to see the Southern Lights

You’ll need clear and very dark skies – so winter is your best bet. Visit the likes of Australia and New Zealand between May and September, although the months of June through to August often have the best conditions.



a night sky: A couple in silhouette dancing on a beach under an incredible bright green display of the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights over a beach in Tasmania with bright blue bioluminescence in the waves caused by Noctiluca scintillans.


© Getty Images
A couple in silhouette dancing on a beach under an incredible bright green display of the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights over a beach in Tasmania with bright blue bioluminescence in the waves caused by Noctiluca scintillans.

Best places to see the Aurora Australis

Australia

Australia is one of the most popular destinations for those seeking to see the Southern Lights. Victoria needs to be on your radar, as its southern location means there are plenty of dark skies during the winter months.

As a bonus, it’s also the home of Melbourne so you can explore the city, then head to the beaches for the night-time views (alternatively, Phillip Island Nature Park can be a great spot).

However, it’s the island of Tasmania where you’re in with the best chance of spotting the aurora. Head to the likes of Betsey Island, Bruny Island, Satellite Island, Freycinet National Parkand and Mount Wellington, all of which are renowned for offering views of the natural phenomenon.



a very dark water: The views of the Aurora Australis over Freycinet National Park in Tasmania


© Getty Images
The views of the Aurora Australis over Freycinet National Park in Tasmania

New Zealand

If the idea of heading out to remote landscapes doesn’t appeal, then you may want to consider a trip to Queenstown. Here you’ll get all of the hustle and bustle of the tourist hotspot, and when the conditions are right, you can also see glimpses of the aurora.

However, if you’re after somewhere a little more quiet and with less light pollution, then you may want to consider the likes of Stewart Island or the Aoraki Mackenzie Dark Sky Reserve – the latter is one of the world’s largest dark sky reserves and is a must-visit for adventurers.



a person with a mountain in the sky: Aurora Australis, Tasmania. Aurora and the milky way behind Frenchmans Cap .


© Getty Images/iStockphoto
Aurora Australis, Tasmania. Aurora and the milky way behind Frenchmans Cap .

Antarctica

It’s remote, it has no light pollution, and the clear skies are ideal for seeing the incredible Southern Lights. The downside of course is that it’s not a particularly easy destination to visit – but it will be a once in a lifetime trip!

Argentina

Head to Ushuaia, where the southern location means that there have been sightings of the aurora. However, as it is a city there is some light pollution, meaning you’ll need a bit of extra luck if you want to see the Southern Lights.

  • During the coronavirus pandemic, countries may be subject to a change in travel restrictions. Always check the latest FCDO advice for your chosen destination before planning, booking, or going on a trip.
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