What are the best destinations for viewing?
In the northern hemisphere there are many land-based and cruise vacations that get you near prime viewing areas for the Northern Lights. Think anywhere in Alaska, the Yukon, Northwest Territories or Nunavet in Canada’s north, Iceland, southern Greenland or the northern lands of Norway, Sweden or Finland. Most of these places have more to offer than the lights and are popular destinations for many other reasons should you wish to hedge your bets in case the lights do not make an appearance.
Hurtigruten Cruises, a Norwegian cruise line that plies the waters off the coast of Norway (and elsewhere world-wide), offers a Northern Lights guarantee of a free cruise if you do not see the polar lights on your cruise. Of course, you must be on specific itineraries at key times of the year – but with that kind of guarantee, it seems to be a sure bet if that is to be the major attraction of your vacation!
In the southern hemisphere, one is looking primarily near Antarctica or the islands or waters nearby. This would entail specialized land expeditions or, more likely, cruise expeditions. The lights can be seen a bit further north if you know where to go. Stewart Island, New Zealand has the Rakiura (Land of the Glowing Skies) National Park or the Aoraki MacKenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. In the South Sandwich Islands, visit South Georgia Island. Australia is getting a bit too far “north” for reliable viewing but Cockle Creek in Tasmania is another suggestion. Going east across the Pacific, consider Ushuaia in Argentina or the Falklands in the Atlantic Ocean.
You do not hear of these Southern Lights as often as their counterpart in the north as access to easy viewing, as you can see, is not as appealing to many vacationers with the possible exceptions of visits to Tasmania and New Zealand. Otherwise, you must be a true adventurer!