Just after 9 pm on 23 March 2017, Air New Zealand flight NZ 1980 "Flight to the Lights" departed Dunedin on a charter flight to chase the Aurora Australis or Southern Lights. Pairs of economy-class seats cost NZ$3,950 (about US$2,800; pairs in business class were NZ$8,500) but sold out quickly. They were sold in pairs to avoid issues with strangers arguing over window-seat time. Seats in the middle of the 767's 2-3-2 economy configuration were not sold.
The 134 passengers got their money's worth with amazing views for about half of the eight-hour flight at altitudes between FL370 and FL390. The Facebook group and news articles referenced below include a number of photos and videos taken during the adventure.
The flight was operated with Boeing 767-300ER ZK-NCG, which after returning to Auckland flew two more trips (AKL-RAR-SYD and return and then an AKL-MEL round-trip) before being retired, leaving just one 767 (ZK-NCI) remaining in Air New Zealand's fleet. (ZK-NCI closed the 767 era at Air New Zealand upon completing NZ 108 SYD-AKL four minutes before midnight at the end of the month.)
Today's Featured Map is based on flight-plan data posted by Captain Matthew Harrington. The clockwise flight path is depicted in the green, 558-nanometer wavelength emitted by excited oxygen, a color which dominates most terrestrial aurorae. Thanks to Ross Younger for the map idea!
This map uses a couple of hacks, er, tricks: