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Aurora Australis southern lights stun New Zealand

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Media captionFraser Gunn of Fairlie, New Zealand captured footage of the Southern Lights

New Zealand's South Island, and some parts of Australia, have been treated to the Aurora Australis, a natural light display in the sky.

A solar storm meant that the Aurora Australis, the southern counterpart of the Aurora Borealis, was visible much further north than it usually is.

Aurorae occur when cosmic rays or solar wind interact with the earth's upper atmosphere.

The aurora is forecast to be active again on Thursday night.

Earlier this week many New Zealanders braved the cold to capture images of the phenomenon.

Image copyright Blair Pattinson – Queenstown Photography Tours
Image copyright Kimball Chen/ www.keaphotography.org

Blair Pattinson, a photographer from Queenstown is part of a community of "aurora chasers".

"When you look at places [like] Finland, Iceland, North Canada, northern lights are very common," he told the BBC.

"We see it more as a treat, when you see an aurora that is strong enough. It's quite special. Many people wait years before they see them."

Image copyright Blair Pattinson – Queenstown Photography Tours

Stephen Voss, a medical practitioner based at the southern tip of New Zealand's South Island, has been chasing aurorae for the last 15 years.

"There is one word to describe the experience of every New Zealander who was out photographing the aurora this week ...freezing," he told the BBC.

"We've had our coldest week of the winter this week with the entire South Island dropping well into sub-zero temperatures overnight."

Image copyright Stephen Voss

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