Best Places to See Southern Lights New Zealand

The BEST Places to see the Southern Lights in New Zealand

The Aurora Australis or Southern Lights have captured the imaginations of countless generations of Kiwis. If you’re interested in them too, you’re in luck, as we’ll take you through our favorite places to see them from NZ! 

 So, grab your camera, don your warmest attire, and join us on an illuminating expedition as we dive into where to see the Southern Lights.

Stewart Island

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/KJWMPGZJmByHQ1z47

Stewart Island is one of the top destinations for witnessing the captivating Southern Lights. This idyllic island is home to pristine beaches, and lush rainforests, creating a dreamy setting for observing the Aurora Australis. 

With its minimal light pollution, and serene atmosphere, Stewart Island offers an unparalleled stage for admiring the mesmerizing dance of colours across the night sky.

Pro Tip: 
While the iconic Observation Rock is popular among aurora chasers, we highly recommend seeking out the lesser-known Ackers Point for a more intimate viewing. This remote, rocky outcrop provides uninterrupted views of the horizon, allowing you to immerse yourself in the celestial extravaganza fully.

Lake Tekapo

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/XLXL9Vw7cAc9Mihh7

Watching the Southern Lights at Lake Tekapo will ignite your passion for the cosmos and leave you with memories as luminous as the auroras themselves. 

Lake Tekapo is renowned for its turquoise waters, vibrant lupins, and the UNESCO Dark Sky Reserve that envelops the lake provides a heavenly backdrop for admiring the hypnotic dance of colours across the night sky.

Pro Tip: 
Skip the Church of the Good Shepherd and venture to the lesser-known Astro Café atop Mount John for a more enchanting experience. This unique spot offers panoramic views of the auroras and serves up delicious treats to keep you warm and cozy.

Mount Cook National Park 

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/7dQpJdckVD8fE8Cr8

Mount Cook National Park boasts towering peaks, majestic glaciers, and a pristine alpine environment. The high altitude and clear skies offer a stellar vantage point for witnessing the mesmerizing play of colours across the southern horizon.

Pro Tip: 
Embark on a nocturnal trek to Sealy Tarns for a truly magical encounter with the Southern Lights. This serene alpine oasis provides unobstructed views of the auroras as they dance above the snow-capped peaks. 
(Just be sure to pack a warm jacket!)

The Catlins

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/VfEASmJji9VN2EPd7

The Catlins’ treasure trove of rugged coastlines, dense forests, and cascading waterfalls offers a sublime setting for admiring the hypnotic Southern Lights. 

Pro Tip: 
• Most people rush to the iconic Nugget Point Lighthouse as it is a favoured spot among aurora tourists. But we suggest making your way to Jack’s Blowhole instead.
• This awe-inspiring, 200-meter-deep blowhole offers a secluded vantage point for marvelling at the auroras as they dance above the stormy seas. Make sure to pack a waterproof camera to get the best shots! 

Queenstown 

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/CLhV6VySXrR4HDej6

Bask in the mesmerizing Southern Lights at Queenstown! Although Queenstown is renowned for its adrenaline-pumping activities, picturesque lake, and surrounding mountains, it’s a great place to observe the Aurora Australis. 

The elevated vantage points of the Alps and the less polluted skies make Queenstown a unique stage for the kaleidoscopic Southern Lights. 

Pro Tip: 
Strap on your hiking boots! We recommend venturing to Skippers Canyon for an otherworldly experience. 
This rugged, historic gold-mining area provides unparalleled panoramas of the auroras as they illuminate the dramatic landscape.

Wanaka

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/2DxZvP1mBqRteJJG6

Wanaka is a charming destination for marvelling at the bewitching Southern Lights. Tucked amidst the captivating scenery of New Zealand’s South Island, Wanaka has a serene lake, majestic mountains, and a vibrant community. 

With its favourable latitude, clear skies, and unobstructed views of the southern horizon, Wanaka provides a magical canvas for admiring the dazzling display of colours across the night sky.

Pro Tip: 
While the iconic Wanaka Tree is a sought-after spot among aurora hunters, we suggest heading to the less crowded Diamond Lake. This tranquil, reflective gem provides an awe-inspiring stage for the auroras as they pirouette above the calm waters. 

Dunedin 

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/ot1nKQWecah1R6KYA

Dunedin—a captivating destination for beholding the enchanting Southern Lights. Dunedin is steeped in rich history, architectural splendours, and natural wonders. 

Its coastal location, clear skies, and wide-open views of the southern horizon make Dunedin an exceptional stage for admiring the mesmerizing cavalcade of the Southern Lights. 

Pro Tip: 
Almost everyone heads to Tunnel Beach, so if you’re looking for a more secluded spot, go to Sandfly Bay. Sandfly is a secluded, wildlife-rich beach perfect for enjoying your thermos of hot cocoa amidst the glow of the stunning Southern Lights.

Fiordland National Park 

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/LmK9hq4NuAh89jJK9

Fiordland National Park is a mesmerizing destination for enjoying the spellbinding Southern Lights. This national park is a haven of pristine fjords, towering peaks, and lush rainforests.

Its dark skies make Fiordland National Park ideal for viewing the auroras.

Pro Tip: 
The iconic Milford Sound is popular among aurora enthusiasts, but we suggest exploring the less crowded Doubtful Sound for a more ethereal experience. This tranquil, awe-inspiring fjord provides a serene vantage point for marvelling at the auroras as they dance above the still lake waters. 

Great Barrier Island  

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/njFPgBXHurvETkjR7

Just shy off the northeastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island, the Great Barrier Island is a sanctuary of pristine beaches and lush forests. (You’ll find their local community is pretty friendly too!) 

With its status as an International Dark Sky Sanctuary, minimal light pollution, and unobstructed views of the southern horizon, Great Barrier Island provides a dreamy backdrop for admiring the enchanting dance of the Southern Lights across the night sky.

Pro Tip: 
Trek to Windy Canyon for a theatrical viewing of the Southern Lights. This picturesque, windswept landscape offers an unparalleled panorama of the auroras as they weave their magic above the rugged terrain. 

The Otago Peninsula 

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/dXz7FAXaEnJ5P3cW7

The Otago Peninsula has rugged cliffs, diverse wildlife, and fascinating history, offering a spellbinding backdrop for observing the Aurora Australis.

Pro Tip: 
Head to Papanui Inlet for a serene experience. This enchanting, sheltered bay is perfect for photographers who want to capture shots of the lights without anyone in the background.

Chatham Islands 

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/csakdQAqPePzUHX76

The Chatham Islands are a hidden gem for immersing yourself in the fascinating Southern Lights. Situated off the eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island, they’re a collection of remote, pristine beaches that offer a charming setting for observing the Aurora Australis.

Pro Tip: 
Go to the lesser-known Nikau Bush Reserve for a more mystical encounter with the Southern Lights. This enchanting, secluded forest provides a unique backdrop for the auroras as they cast their spell above the canopy.

Invercargill

Address: https://goo.gl/maps/e9zGFyU6gXcv5Yov9

Invercargill is a city steeped in history, culture, and natural beauty. With its prime location, clear skies, and wide-open views of the southern horizon, Invercargill offers a splendid stage for admiring the mesmerizing waltz of colours across the night sky.

Pro Tip: 
Head to Sandy Point Domain! This serene, picturesque reserve provides an awe-inspiring setting for the auroras as they perform their luminous ballet above the peaceful landscape.