Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight… Aucklanders, while the South Island may be famous for its skies, we’re pretty damn lucky too. While you may have to venture a little way from the inner city with its man-made constellations, there are some truly beautiful spots to gaze at those gleaming gaseous balls—just remember to make that wish and have the wish you wish tonight.
Pro tip: for all you serious stargazers, try to align your trips with the moon cycles, so you don’t get any unwanted light obscuring your view.
Well-known as a beautiful beach hot spot and just an hour-and-a-half east from the city, Tawharanui can be just as magical come nightfall. Take a blanket, bring a loved-one and lie back and soak in the magestical views, alternatively dream away the evening at the campground.
Auckland’s most famed West Coast beach, Piha, is well worth the day trip with its wild shores, but it’s just as spectacular at night. Book yourself a place in the campground, head down to the dunes (keep it safe, peeps, now’s not the time to be climbing the rock) and prepare to be star struck.
Head south where you’ll find another epic spot to moon over the stars—Awhitu. This white-sand, beautiful beach is a real treasure to Aucklanders and the gates close at 9pm in the summer, so get in early to see that first star.
4. Shakespear Regional Park
Te Haruhi Bay campground, situated amongst the dunes in Shakespear Regional Park, provides the perfect spot to cosy up in the cold sand and contemplate the existence of aliens, the inconceivable size of the universe or whether those four stars are actually the Southern Cross.
5. Hunua Ranges
Head out to the Hunuas to get closer to the stars. Dwarfed by mountains in every direction, with streams and waterfalls for background music, it’s an ideal venue for taking a walk while soaking in Mother Nature’s beauty. As night falls, head back to your car (the park closes at 9pm) and soak in the night sky before driving back to city life.
6. Waiheke Island
A short ferry ride from Auckland is Waiheke—just far enough away from all those city lights to get a glimpse of the star-studded skies. Enjoy dinner at Mudbrick and then head outside to the Archive Bar and Bistro's roof, relax on a bean bag and wish upon a star.
If you’re looking for more remote than Waiheke then try Motutapu. With a campsite that is literally right by the beach and without power or light, it’s one of the best places to stargaze in Auckland. You’ll be birdwatching by day and star-watching by night, you’ll soon be transformed by the beauty.
8. Stardome Observatory Planetarium
If you can’t make it out of the city, but still need a bit of star action, head along to Auckland’s very own observatory—the fabulous Stardome. Situated in the heart of Cornwall Park, a guide will take you on an unforgettable tour of our universe—use that knowledge to help with your gazing when you actually manage to make it outta town.
9. The Pinnacles
Yes, this one is sliiightly out of town (a two-hour drive to The Coromandel) but we promise it’s worth it! If you’re keen to add some adventure and exercise to your stargazing, then consider climbing the Pinnacles. It’s a steep three-hour hike to the top but the view is absolutely stellar! Make sure to book a space in the hut for the night, and if you’re lucky enough to get a cloudless evening, then venture outside because you’re 759m closer to those starry skies.
It may be a three-hour drive away from Auckland but Whananaki is one of the best places to see stars at night. Lie in the long grass on the hillsides of the campgrounds… Just be aware that this is also one of the absolute best places to see some exceptionally oversized insects. But trust us, it’s worth the risk.
11. Dark Sky Reserve, Great Barrier Island
If Waiheke and Motutapu are still too close to home, did you know the world’s first island Dark Sky Sanctuary is just a short trip across the Hauraki Gulf on Great Barrier Island? A mere 90km from Auckland City Centre. Well deserving of its place of Choice Hotels 100 Untold Stories List, the Dark Sky Sanctuary is where you’ll witness some of the most pristine and undisturbed night skies—perfect for a romantic stargazing getaway.
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Image credit: Night sky at Great Barrier Island by Auckland NZ