9 Best Places to See the Southern Lights

The Southern Lights, commonly known as the Aurora Australis, is one of the world’s greatest wonders. Just like the northern lights, the southern lights occur when electrically charged solar particles and atoms in the Earth’s atmosphere collide with gases like oxygen and nitrogen, causing those gases to emit light.

Southern Lights are not so popular as compare to the Northern Lights because it’s all about land. Head high up to the Northern Hemisphere towards the Arctic Circle and there is land aplenty. You have Northern Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia all heading high up to where the Aurora comes out to play. This makes finding a nice location with accommodations very easy. You can go on trips and spend days relaxing in comfort while the night sky lights up for you. However, the Southern Hemisphere is a little different. Southern Hemisphere is covered with most of the water. It is not much more accessible as compare to Northern Hemisphere. We list the best spots in the region to watch this great gig in the sky.

1. ANTARCTICA

Places to See the Southern LightsAntarctica is the southernmost continent and site of the South Pole. The best place for viewing the Southern Lights is actually Antarctica itself. Here, the lights are most visible, most active, and most impressive. With not a speck of city light to interfere, the dark winter months in Antarctica offer a dazzling sky show. The temperature is mind-numbingly low, but take our advice and book a cruise in March: the lights are still around and it’s safe enough to travel. The Antarctic winter, between March and September, is the best time to see southern lights in Antartica.

2. SOUTH GEORGIA ISLAND

Places to See the Southern LightsSouth Georgia is an island in the southern Atlantic Ocean that is part of the British Overseas territory of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. This island is almost 3,220km from Argentina, and among the southernmost islands in the world. More than half of its tiny area is permanently covered in ice. But luckily, in March, several cruises offer tours for the nighttime light show. The Antarctic winter, between March and September, is the best time to see southern lights in  South Georgia Island. This island is a paradise for wildlife lovers, with literally millions and millions of animals going about their lives with little concern for the handful of humans that occasionally appear.

3. FALKLAND ISLANDS

This small group of islands lie around 400 miles off the coast of Argentina in South America. At this small group of islands, almost 400 miles off the South American mainland, a permanent monitoring system for the Southern Lights was established in 2010. Three scheduled flights ply every week—two from Oxfordshire in England and one from Punta Arenas in Chile. There are many beautiful tourist destinations in Falkland islands. Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands, is also the major population centre, home to more than 2,000 people. Wildlife and nature are what most visitors to the Falkland Islands come to see. Colonies of penguins and albatrosses, sea lions, elephant seals, 15 species of whales, dolphins, and a wide variety of birds (approximately 200 species of them) can be found throughout the islands. The darkest months, between April and August, is the best time to see southern lights in the Falkland Islands.

4. STEWART ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND

Places to See the Southern LightsStewart Island/Rakiura is the third-largest island of New Zealand. It lies 30 kilometres south of the South Island, across the Foveaux Strait. A short ferry ride from the town of Bluff on South Island takes you to Stewart Island, which is home to Rakiura National Park. In Maori, the name translates to ‘the land of the glowing skies’. Need we say more? The Antarctic winter, between March and September, is the best time to see southern lights in the Stewart Island. Rakiura National Park, Ulva Island birdwatching, Halfmoon Bay and Rakiura Museum are best tourist places to visit in Stewart Island. Read also Top 10 Emerging Travel Destinations Of The World

5. USHUAIA, ARGENTINA

Places to See the Southern LightsThe fifth place on our list is Ushuaia, which is located at the far southern point of Argentina. This is the world’s most southern city and this is a good spot for Aurora viewing. Among the most accessible places to view the lights is Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the world. It is closer to the South Pole than South Georgia Island and Stewart Island. The only spoiler is that there is a chance the hovering rain clouds can rain on your parade. The Antarctic winter, between March and September, is the best time to see southern lights in Ushuaia. There is some stunning scenery in the area, however, and wonderful wildlife. The city is also not that difficult to get to, as it has its own airport. Beagle Channel, Tierra del Fuego National Park, Museo Maritimo and Laguna Esmeralda are the top tourists’ attractions of Ushuaia.

6. LAKE TEKAPO, NEW ZEALAND

Places to See the Southern LightsLake Tekapo is a small town located at the southern end of the lake of the same name in the inland South Island of New Zealand. The turquoise lake in the Mackenzie Basin, part of a UNESCO-designated Dark Sky Reserve, makes for an ideal spot to view the aurora australis and their reflection in the water. And right In the vicinity, the south-facing Mount John Observatory—perched on a mountain—is also an excellent vantage point to watch this dazzling show.

7. AORAKI/MOUNT COOK NATIONAL PARK, NEW ZEALAND

Places to See the Southern LightsAoraki/Mount Cook National Park is in the South Island of New Zealand, near the town of Twizel. Aoraki / Mount Cook, New Zealand’s highest mountain, and Aoraki/Mount Cook Village lie within the park. The country’s famous mountaineer Sir Edmund Hillary frequented this park to practice his climbing skills. And Mount Cook, the tallest peak in New Zealand, was actually his training ground for his eventual summiting of Everest. That the area also offers stunning views of the Southern Lights in the dark winter months is only one more advantage.

8. THE CATLINS, NEW ZEALAND

Places to See the Southern LightsThe Catlins comprises an area in the southeastern corner of the South Island of New Zealand. The area lies between Balclutha and Invercargill, straddling the boundary between the Otago and Southland regions.Nestled in a corner of South Island, this sparsely populated area has dense rainforests and a rugged coast. With not much city light to interfere, this remote part of the mainland is another great place to see the neon green sky. The Catlins is a dramatic and beautiful part of New Zealand. It has a wealth of attractions to tempt visitors to the area, and a growing range of activities ensures visitors to The Catlins will find plenty to do and see.

9. TASMANIA, AUSTRALIA

Places to See the Southern LightsTasmania, an isolated island state off Australia’s south coast, is known for its vast, rugged wilderness areas, largely protected within parks and reserves. Well connected to Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane through daily flights, Tasmania is perhaps the most accessible of all places to see the lights. The best time to visit is winter (between June and August) when the air is crisp, the landscape looks pristine and Tasmanian whiskey tastes better than ever.

So there you have it, some of the best places to view the Southern Lights. Let’s wrap up 9 Best Places to See the Southern Lights article. Read also 10 SCIENTIFIC WONDERS TO SEE BEFORE YOU DIE

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— Sunil Nain

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