Aurora lights up NZ skies

Night sky watchers have been treated to a second night of the stunning Southern Lights, Aurora Australis.

Sightings were reported in Wellington, Christchurch, rural Canterbury and Central Otago last night.

Rose Mary Mellado watched the aurora in Christchurch.

``This is my first experience with aurora.. happy me!'', she wrote on the Aurora Australis Alerts Facebook page.

Others also spotted the celestial delight.

It was a weekend of wonders, with the lights spotted as far north as Auckland the previous night.

Self-described Auckland ``aurora hunter'' Gareth West got the shot of a lifetime when he captured the Southern Lights over the Manukau Heads on Saturday night.

``The opportunity to catch one is rare unless the aurora index - which is called the KP index - goes over six, and last night [Saturday] it got from about 6.5 to seven ... that's nearly unheard of, and a very, very rare thing to happen.

``So we went there and thought, let's just see what happens, and then she erupted all over New Zealand.

``You might see the odd air glow, or the glow of an aurora, but to see the full-on beams, the redness, and the way it erupted... and to photograph it, well, there have only been a handful of people that have ever done it.''

Also on Saturday night, Canterbury photographer Ekant Veer snapped what he described as ``by the biggest aurora australis display I've seen''.

In a Facebook post, Veer described it as ``a surreal experience to see it dancing across the sky''.

Not everyone was so fortunate though - Jo Faulkner shared her jealousy on Twitter.

The Aurora Australis is the result of particles in solar winds colliding with atmospheric gases.

The particles converge and become more visible close to the poles of the earth.

Its better-known cousin is the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, which draws millions of tourists to Nordic countries each year.

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