8 Best Places to See the Southern Lights—Aurora Australis

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southern lights
Credit: Earth & Sky

The Southern Lights Are Putting on a Magnificent Show for You

You’ve heard of the northern lights before—those multicolored, glowing, neon stripes that dash across the sky, swirling and twirling and captivating eyes all around the world. The northern lights put on an impressive show and call for travelers to come up north and take a front row seat to the performance. Greens, purples, reds, and pinks brush across the black canvas to produce an amazement like nothing ever seen before. It truly is a natural firework display of color. Chances are that visiting the northern lights is already on your bucket list–either checked off or awaiting the day that it will be checked off. But, did you know that the northern lights have an equally splendid and extravagant cousin? For those who have even wondered are there southern lights? the answer is, yes yes yes!

The Lowdown on the Southern Lights

The Southern Hemisphere has just the same enticing display of color that can be found in the Northern Hemisphere. Just like the northern lights, the southern lights are created as the result of solar particles striking atoms in Earth’s atmosphere. The southern lights can be seen mainly in the fall and winter months, which lasts from April to September in the Southern Hemisphere. The winter months hold less daylight in the south, which increases your chances of seeing the Aurora Australis.

However, the weather can lead to unpredictable viewings. It is not certain that the lights will be on display during your vacation trip to these destinations, but the southern lights are too magnificent to entertain “what ifs.” So, by now you are probably wondering, where can you see the southern lights? We are spilling the best places for viewing this world wonder that is known as the southern Aurora. Here is the list of the 8 best places in the world to spot the southern lights.

P.S. Aurora Australis is the fancy scientific term for the northern and southern lights.

1. Stewart Island, New Zealand

Stewart Island, New Zealand
Credit: Christoph Strässler

Located on the southern tip of New Zealand, Stewart Island has clear skies that enhance the glowing splendor of the southern lights. It is closer than South Georgia Island and offers a host of hotel and lodge accommodations for travelers to stay at when traveling to see the southern lights. Stewart Island has a huge national park called Rakiura National Park, which covers about 85% of the island. Rakiura National Park means, “the land of the glowing skies.” Thus, we needed to highlight Stewart Island on this list of the best places in the south to see the glowing sky. Since the population on the island is small, there is little light pollution to dull the glow. That means all the higher chances of you catching a wondrous display of these rainbow twinkling lights on Stewart Island.

2. South Georgia Island

South Georgia Island is a British Overseas territory about 2,000 miles east of Argentina. The island is remote and in the winter, when the southern lights are likely to be on display, few people are brave enough to journey this far south to take in the light show. And even if you have enough courage to embrace the freezing temperatures, icy conditions, and high wind speed, getting to South Georgia Island can be an obstacle for travelers. Unless you are with a research team, your best bet is to take a cruise at the end of March and hope to catch a glimpse of this glorious display. Leave later than March and the conditions will be too dangerous to journey down to South Georgia Island. All in all, South Georgia Island is an optimal location for viewing the Aurora Australis. That is, if you can get there.

3. Lake Tekapo, New Zealand

Lake Tekapo, New Zealand
Credit: Earth & Sky

Lake Tekapo typically has cloudless skies that allow for a prime Aurora display. The area is known for its dark skies and because of that, it is also known as one of the greatest places to go stargazing. In addition to taking in the southern lights. Lake Tekapo is recognized as a “Dark Sky Reserve” by UNESCO, which means there is little to no light pollution to hinder one’s viewing of the Aurora or the stars. Backpackers and campers will absolutely love Lake Tekapo, New Zealand. On Mount John, travelers can step inside an observatory to look at the night sky through a powerful telescope. The views from Mount John, as well as any other mountain in the area, will be unbelievable and leave you in awe.

4. The Falkland Islands

The Falkland Islands are located in the South Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles off the coast of Argentina. These off the beaten path islands contain great wilderness to enjoy, as well as a great view of the southern lights. Penguins will be watching the light show with you on the Falkland Islands. You can visit the islands via cruise ships, or via regular flights out of Chile and Argentina.

5. Mount Wellington, Australia

southern lights - Mount Wellington
Credit: Brendan Davey

Mount Wellington is located on Australia’s southern island Tasmania. Here, seated on the top of a mountain, you have better chances of seeing the lights on a clear night than if you are at a lower elevation. Grab the popcorn and pray for the sky to be cloudless so that you can witness the glory of the light show in this front row seat.

6. Ushuaia, Argentina

Ushuaia, Argentina is the world’s most southern city. This makes it a prime spot to behold the sparkling neon of the Aurora Australis. Yet, due to the unruly weather conditions in Ushuaia, Aurora viewing can be difficult and unpredictable. Although, when clouds split and reveal a clear sky, Ushuaia is an optimal location to catch a beautiful show. The more remote areas where there is less light pollution will show off an even better display of the lights as well.

7. Victoria, Australia

southern lights - Victoria
Credit: John White

If you would rather not leave the mainland of Australia to visit the Australian state of Tasmania, then head to the southeastern state of Victoria to view the Aurora. We recommend journeying to the coast where travelers can see the flashes of greens and pinks dance above the ocean. The reflection of the southern lights off the water is unreal. Again, winter is the ideal season for Aurora spotting in Victoria, Australia. This is because it is darker for longer in the winter months, allowing for better Aurora viewing.

8. Antarctica

The further south you get, the better your chances are of seeing the southern lights. Just as the further north you get, the better your chances are of seeing the northern lights. That is why countries such as Norway and Iceland are among the best destinations to see the northern lights. So is this is how it works, how much more southern can you get than Antarctica? There are cruises that take passengers through Antarctica to see the magnificent display of colors in the night sky.

While Antarctica is the absolute best place to get a clear viewing on the southern lights, the fee isn’t cheap to hop aboard one of these cruise ships. Expect to pay a significant amount, but also expect to see the most dazzling night sky that you will ever see. If you are brave enough to embrace the frigid temperatures and strong wind, then Antarctica is the certainly the best place to view the southern lights.

Come See the Show…

The northern lights are more well-known than the southern lights because in the north there is plenty of land to view such lights. In the south, there are few viewing spots that are low enough to see such the wonder of the southern lights. However, the colors of the light show in the south are just as spectacular as in the north.

Though they can be tricky to find and see, there are places you can visit to witness the southern lights as we have highlighted on this list of the 8 best places to spot the southern lights. We advise bundling up in layers upon layers because heading south in the winter will mean chilly temperatures. However, cold fingers and cold toes will be worth it when you behold the glorious light show that is the southern lights. When your fingers and toes defrost, you will have memories to retell, photographs to share, and another item checked off of your bucket list (an item that few people will have on their bucket list in the first place, and much fewer will have that item checked off).

Have you seen the southern light or northern lights before? We want to hear every detail of your trip in the comments before!

Related: The New 7 Wonders of the World That Will Take Your Breath Away

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