A rare final chance has arisen to view the Aurora Australis from a commercial flight.

Last year, Otago Museum director Ian Griffin announced he was organising a charter flight from Dunedin towards the Antarctica to see the lights - the first of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.

Tickets for the historic flight sold out quickly, but there is one chance left to nab the final ticket - by bidding on TradeMe.

The chartered Boeing 767 is set to leave Dunedin at 9pm on March 23 and returns at around 5am the next day.


The ticket up for auction includes access to a window seat at various times for aurora viewing and photography - and the flight even includes an astrophotography master class, to make sure the lights are depicted at their colourful best.

Griffin, who is the former Nasa Space Telescope Science Institute public outreach head, told the Herald last year he aimed to make Aurora Australis flights an annual tourist attraction.

"If we can show that there's a market for it, who knows where we can go with it."

He said the seven-hour flight had been timed to take advantage of the equinox aurora effect, when there would be 12 hours of daylight and 12 hours of darkness.

"It's very, very likely we will see an aurora, as the flight is heading to 62 degrees south on the last leg.

"Lights will be off on the flight so we should get lovely views of the Milky Way rising in the early part of the flight."

The flight plan would take the Boeing 767 across the International Date Line four times as it zig-zagged back and forth, so people on both sides of the aircraft could get a good view of the aurora australis, he said.

The auction for the final ticket has reached $1010 since it was listed yesterday, with all proceeds going to the Variety Children's Charity New Zealand.

The Aurora Australis seen from Hoopers Inlet on the Otago Peninsula. Photo / Ian Griffin
The Aurora Australis seen from Hoopers Inlet on the Otago Peninsula. Photo / Ian Griffin

It was listed by astrophotographer Mark Gee, who told Fairfax he wanted to give someone the opportunity to share his extra ticket.

"To see an aurora at that intensity, you would either have to travel to the northern hemisphere to the likes of Norway or Iceland, or spend time during winter in Antarctica," he said.

Tickets for the flight were initially priced at $3950 a pair in economy and $8500 a pair in business class, with 150 seats available.