Southern Lights

The Southern Lights or Aurora Australis is a spellbinding natural light show that produces shimmering sheets of colourful light that appear to dance across the sky. New Zealand is home to the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve, offering premium conditions for star gazing.  

Issue information

Auroras are the result of electrically charged particles from solar winds reacting with gases in the earth’s atmosphere. The excess energy from these reactions creates a stunning light show that can be seen at the North or South poles. In order to view the Southern Lights you would need to be as far South as possible, which is part of the reason that New Zealand is such a prime location for viewing these colourful displays.

The Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve is located in the Mackenzie Basin of the South Island. The extreme lack of natural light and the multitude of clear nights make it the perfect combination for stargazing, or if the timing is right, for viewing the Southern Lights. The Mt John observatory is the University of Canterbury’s premier astronomical observatory and is a much favoured spot for catching a glimpse of the Southern Lights.

The Southern Lights can range in colour from pink to green to purple, with the colours dependent on a number of factors. The type of solar wind particle, the type of gas molecule and the electrical state at the time of the collision all have an effect on the eventual colour of the aurora.

This stunning stamp issue featured six gummed stamps - each featuring a photograph of the Southern Lights at the Aoraki Mackenzie International Dark Sky Reserve. Each stamp showed a different view of the Southern Lights, with the various colours and patterns of shimmering light clearly evident in these stunning photographs.

Miniature Sheet and First Day Covers

The stamps in the miniature sheet were produced using a special silver foil, which replicated the shimmering effect of the Southern Lights. The miniature sheet was the only way to obtain the stamps in this format.

There were also two first day covers available as part of this issue. One had the six stamps affixed and one had the miniature sheet affixed. Both featured more stunning imagery of the Southern Lights.

Presentation Pack

The Southern Lights presentation pack was the ultimate collector’s item. It was written by Earth and Sky, an astro-tourism company that operates from the heart of the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserve. With stunning imagery to match its compelling story, the items and information in this pack were sure to please. Inside it you found the six gummed stamps, the first day cover and the miniature sheet.

Commemorative Coins

Take a look at the commemorative coins that were also part of this issue. Click here to find out more.

Product Listing for Southern Lights

Click on image to enlarge.

Image Title Description Price
Single Stamp Single $1.00 gummed stamp. $1.00
Single Stamp Single $1.80 gummed stamp. $1.80
Single Stamp Single $2.00 gummed stamp. $2.00
Single Stamp Single $2.20 gummed stamp. $2.20
Single Stamp Single $2.70 gummed stamp. $2.70
Single Stamp Single $3.30 gummed stamp. $3.30
Miniature Sheet Mint, used or cancelled miniature sheet. $13.00
First Day Cover First day cover with stamps affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $13.50
Miniature Sheet First Day Cover First day cover with miniature sheet affixed. Cancelled on the first day of issue. $13.50
Presentation Pack

Presentation pack containing a selection of stamp products from the issue and further information on the theme of the stamps.

Still available to purchase. Click here.

$29.90

Technical information

Date of issue: 8 February 2017
Number of stamps: Six gummed stamps
Denominations: $1.00, $1.80, $2.00, $2.20, $2.70 and $3.30
Stamps, miniature sheet and first day covers designed by: Jonathan Gray, New Zealand Post, Wellington, New Zealand
Printer and process: Southern Colour Print by offset lithography 
Number of colours: Four process colours plus silver foil for miniature sheet 
Stamp size and format: 48mm x 30mm (horizontal) 
Paper type: Tullis Russell 104gsm red phosphor gummed stamp paper 
Number of stamps per sheet: 25
Perforation gauge: 14.585 x 14 
Period of sale: These stamps remained on sale until 7 February 2018.