A two-hour drive from Melbourne, Philip Island is a great spot for trying to see the aurora. Philip Island has several natural areas where you can escape the light pollution in the area. These include Nobbies Centre, Phillip Island Nature Park, and Churchill Island Marine National Park. By day, you can visit a koala conservation centre or explore the Bass Strait beaches on its southern shore.
This peninsula is the southern-most part of the Australian mainland, a three-hour drive from Melbourne. The area is protected, making up the Wilsons Promontory National Park and Wilsons Promontory Marine Park. By day, Wilsons Promontory offers a wealth of outdoor activities, beautiful scenery to take in and a variety of wildlife to spot. At night, the area provides visitors with dark skies that are perfect for aurora-watching. Accommodation options include camping or staying in a hut, cabin, wilderness retreat or lodge.
South Arm Peninsula is a 40-minute drive east and south of Hobart, and an astrophotographer’s paradise. Both Clifton and Calvert’s beaches offer excellent opportunities to see the aurora in the dark night sky – both offer good south-facing views that are crucial.
Arguably the best, place to see the southern lights on earth is Antarctica. Because Antarctica is largely undeveloped, there is basically no light pollution beyond the reflected light of the moon and stars on the snow and ice. Join the penguins and enjoy the celestial show overhead.
Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Preserve is the largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world and the only one in the southern hemisphere. Within this large area, you’ll find some of the darkest skies over New Zealand. There are a few places within Aoraki Mackenzie that you should definitely visit. It is worth at least a two-night stay.
Located on the southern tip of New Zealand, Stewart Island has clear skies that enhance the glowing splendour of 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.
For the optimal southern lights experience, you need a combination of dark skies, clear weather, and strong aurora activity.
Ensuring that all these requirements come together takes some planning.
To capture good images of the southern lights, you'll need the camera to stay still for a long exposure. A tripod
(and remote shutter release) are a must. I've never tried using a phone camera to take southern lights photos.
I've been guilty on occasion of having been too focused on getting photos, and not taking enough time to just enjoy the show.
Photos are great, and it's a fun challenge to take aurora pictures — but they can't beat the human eye for capturing
the detail and motion of the lights.
CFO at Aurora Andi Travel Office