These were two great days for heading to the west coast to look at spectacular sunsets at Piha Beach and then moving over the hill for some stargazing at Karekare Beach.
Destination: Piha and Karekare
On Saturday 28 and Tuesday 31 January, groups of students from Auckland Institute of Studies left the school late afternoon and went first to Piha Beach, then to Karekare Beach and finally to Arataki Visitor Centre.
We arrived at Piha Beach well before sunset which was at 8.35pm. As it was low tide, we spent some time exploring the south end of the beach, around the Gap and Keyhole area. We headed back to the main part of the beach in time for sunset which was spectacular on both days.
Many of the students took the opportunity to call friends and family via video apps so they could appreciate the view also. We stayed for a while after sunset as the sky turned to the bluish colour of twilight.
As it was getting dark, we drove over the hill to Karekare Beach which is an ideal place to look at the stars. On arrival, we had a short walk to the beach, passed the surf lifesaving club and then walked across a shallow stream. There was a small log in the stream that we could use as a bridge, using phone torches to light the way.
There are few houses at Karekare and none on the beach itself and as there was no moon on these nights, there was no light pollution. As a result, the stars put on a great display so we could observe the Milky Way and many constellations.
The final stop of the night was at Arataki Visitor Centre which was closed by that time but the path up to the lookout was still accessible.
We spent more time stargazing there as well as looking at the city lights, including the Harbour Bridge and Skytower lights.
I dropped the members of the group off at their houses, with the last drop-off just before midnight.