'Super massive' aurora headed for New Zealand tonight

A "super massive" aurora is heading for New Zealand, with the light show expected to peak Thursday morning - possibly during the day.

On Wednesday morning, the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research (NIWA) tweeted that a "super massive" aurora was expected to pass over the country.

An aurora is a light display in the sky, produced when high energy particles from solar wind or the sun hit the atmosphere, creating lights of different colours.

Aurora photographer Paul Le Comte says the latest forecast is the aurora could be at full strength tomorrow morning, possibly during the daylight hours, which will reduce visibility.

He says the farther south, the better, but because of the scale of this aurora, it should be visible from Wairarapa south.

"If it's bigger than expected, you'll see air glow as far north as Auckland."

"Make sure you're away from town or city lights," he advised.

"The golden rule is the darker the better. Sadly tonight's aurora, although massive, coincides with cloudy skies and the full moon. It's like turning on the lights in the movie theatre and trying to enjoy the movie.

"If there wasn't a full moon and the skies were clear, this aurora would have been very visible from say Waikato south, even to the naked eye."

Mr Le Comte says to think of it like a wave coming from the sun.

"The front of the wave is going to hit us not long after dark. This is a super fast moving aurora event, making it hard to accurately forecast precisely when it will hit. Sadly because it's so fast, it could past over [New Zealand] in a matter of hours."

"A bit like a tsunami coming in, they pulse, as there's multiple waves of material coming in from the sun. It will pulse bright and dim all night long."