Southern Lights

Friday, 9 February 2024

Southern Lights

Imagine standing beneath a star-studded sky where nature puts on a show of lights that feels like pure magic. The Aurora Australis, or the Southern Lights provides just that, a dazzling display of colours that turns the night into an art canvas!

And Selwyn, with its beautiful landscapes, provides the perfect front-row seat for this celestial show.

For those curious about what the Southern Lights are; the Lights occur when charged particles from the sun collide with gases in the Earth’s atmosphere which creates the amazing dance of light, we call the Southern Lights or Aurora Australis. 

So, forget city lights and crowded spaces and embrace nature. The Southern Lights paint the night sky with shades of green, pink, and purple, which is breathtaking to view in person. The experience of witnessing the Southern Lights with friends and family can become a shared story or even a tradition. Over time, you might find yourself telling and retelling the story of the night you truly experienced the Southern Lights!

If you’re wondering where you can make the most of this natural light show – we have you covered, offering up the secrets of Selwyn with some easy tips and best spots to witness this event.


1. Kura Tawhiti

Kura Tawhiti literally means ‘the treasure from a distant land’ and it’s not hard to see why the name is so fitting. If the timing is right, Kura Tawhiti, located by Castle Hill, is one of the best spots to capture the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights.  

This unique spot, nestled amid picturesque landscapes of the South Island, offers a front-row seat to the Lights. But what makes it so great for viewing the Southern Lights? The answer lies in its strategic elevation and unobstructed panoramic views. Perched atop the rolling hills, Kura Tawhiti provides for an uninterrupted sightline to the southern horizon, allowing visitors to witness the lights in all their glory. And even better, the absence of light pollution from nearby urbans areas enhances the experience.

So, whether you’re a seasoned astrophotographer or a casual stargazer, Kura Tawhiti offers one of the best settings for capturing the magic of the Southern Lights. Bring your blanket, lay back and lose yourself in the lights. By combining the right timing with the right location, there’s no doubts the Southern Lights will leave you with some unforgettable encounters.


2. Te Waihora

Situated near Christchurch, Te Waihora, also known as Lake Ellesmere, is the largest lake in Canterbury and provides a serene spot for the Southern Lights. Since we all know us kiwis love being lakeside it’s no wonder this spot provides an enchanting experience for those wishing to view the Southern Lights here in Selwyn.

With its expansive lake mirroring the Southern Lights, there’s no doubt the lights will create a beautiful reflection that will enhance the overall experience. The surrounding landscape of hills and native flora add to the touch of nature that visitors might be seeking. And again, the absence of city lights ensures optimal visibility, allowing observers to fully immerse themselves in the Southern Lights.

If you’re a photographer, there really is no opportunity like capturing the Southern Lights at Te Waihora. Photographing the different hues of colours really does toe the line of ordinary reality, and with each click of the shutter, you can freeze that cosmic event in time. Better yet, capture the reflection against the lake and you might find yourself with some of your finest works of art!

Away from the hustle and bustle, Te Waihora’s shores offer a secluded escape for seasoned photographers and families or couples alike. And who can deny that witnessing this awe-inspiring display will be anything less than memorable this summer?


 Tips for viewing the Southern Lights

To maximise your chances of witnessing the Southern Lights at its finest, we have you covered with a few key tips you can follow:

  1. Choose the right time of year. As the Southern Lights are most visible during those nightly hours, don’t come too early in the evening. Be sure to park up and find a spot in the late evening heading to when the sun goes down. Better yet, keep this in mind for winter once the nights are longer and darker.
  2. Opt for a location away from urban lights to minimise the light pollution. Spots like the ones we mentioned above, remote, and serene, provide some of the best conditions.
  3. Keep an eye on solar activity, as heightened solar storms increase the likelihood of a beautiful display. Patience is key, as the lights may not be constant so dedicating a couple or more nights to witnessing these lights will increase your chances of witnessing it at its best.
  4. Use apps or websites that can provide real-time auror forecasts and activity updates.
  5. For those who are photography whizzes, be sure to bring a sturdy tripod and a camera capable of long-exposure shots to capture the intricate colours.
  6. Dress warm and comfortable! Viewing the lights can be a beautiful way to spend a few hours, you don’t want to leave early because you wore the wrong clothes, especially if those temperatures drop.

Armed with these tips, we are sure you will be well-prepared to embark on some unforgettable experiences and adventures of witnessing the Southern Lights. There really is no place like home, right here in Selwyn, to witness some celestial wonders!


If you have managed to capture some stunning photos in the past of the Southern Lights or go on to capture some in the future, please do feel free to share your memorable experiences with us using #selwynnz!

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