Stunning Aurora Australis lights up New Zealand skies

Stunning Aurora Australis lights up New Zealand skies
Photo credit: Twitter / @iangriffin

Stunning green and purple lights danced across the skies of New Zealand as the Aurora Australis lit up the night.

The Southern Lights were visible in Otago and Southland on Saturday night to the excitement of photographers and astronomers.

Social media lit up with photos of the stunning display.

"Well that was a lovely evening! I enjoyed a rather pretty display of the Aurora Australis earlier this evening from my favoured perch beside Hoopers Inlet," tweeted Otago Museum director Ian Griffin.

"She's back. Aurora Australis in all her beauty," another tweeted.

Auroras are caused by solar flares from the sun that hurtle through space. When this solar storm approaches the Earth, some of the energy and small particles travel down the magnetic field lines at the north and south poles into the atmosphere.

Once there, the particles interact with gases, which then results in auroras. Oxygen gives off green and red light while nitrogen glows blue and purple.

But sadly, the Aurora Australis may not be as visible on Sunday. The University of Otago's geomagnetic activity forecaster shows the current level of geomagnetic activity is 1/9, which is considered low. This means aurora is only visible with a good camera and taking a photo using a long exposure, not the naked eye.