Chase Candyfloss Skies With The Best Places To Catch A Sunset In NZ
In the light of golden hour, take your seat and let the sunset take centre stage.
Words by: Jess Willemse
Photography by: Neat Places and Supplied
Hero image by: Bill Fairs
Fact; chasing jaw-dropping sunsets has to be up there with one of the best ways to discover New Zealand. In the light of golden hour, a town, city, or beach can completely transform as candyfloss colours dance across the sky.
Whether you prefer hiking up to panoramic vantage points or settling in for a seaside picnic, we've got you covered. From North to South, here's where to catch nine epic sunsets in Aotearoa.
West Coast Beaches
No guide to Kiwi sunsets would be complete without mentioning Auckland's magical West Coast beaches. Dramatic seascapes and glistening black sand are a pretty romantic backdrop for a twilight date. Muriwai offers the bonus of the gannet colony for wildlife lovers, while Piha's Lion Rock is an iconic addition to your coastal view. Pick up a takeaway from your fave Auckland eatery en route, pack a bottle of champers and consider date night sorted.
For good reason, Mount Maunganui is frequented by both locals and visitors alike come sundown. It's the perfect evening destination for a spot of people watching, enjoying the boats, and, of course, a killer sunset. If you're lucky, you'll score a technicolour sky of reds, purples, and blues across the horizon. Grab some fish and chips; locals recommend the takeaway at Salisbury Wharf and settle in for a blissful hour of sky-gazing.
Te Mata Peak
While the road up through Te Mata Peak isn't the most relaxing drive, the views, in the end, are well worth it. Load up the chilly bin, pack a cosy blanket and set out to discover one of the most stunning places in Hawke's Bay. You'll be treated to an abundance of lookouts with views spanning across Havelock North and beyond. After a day of craft coffee and shopping at the artisan stores, this is the best way to cap off 12 hours in Havelock North.
If you're looking for an overnight getaway from the buzzing capital of Wellington, make tracks to Masterton and add Castlepoint Lighthouse to the list. This dramatic seascape doesn't disappoint, thanks to the 23-metre high lighthouse. And yes, it's the tallest one in the North Island. Soaring coastal clifftops come to life at dusk, transforming from rocky ridges to glowing natural sculptures. One thing is for sure, you won't want to forget your camera.
Port Hills is brimming with secret nooks to get amongst a stellar evening view. You can access the most well-known spot, Gibraltar Rock, by trekking up the hills on a circuit loop. Or, make your way to the lesser-known Tarn, which you'll find along Summit Road heading to Witch Hill. This little gem offers sparkling views over the city and a dreamy reflection in the Tarn. Before setting off, stock up on drool-worthy picnic eats at one of Christchurch's local italian delis, Mediterranean Food Company.
No matter the time of day, there's no shortage of 'Gram-worthy views in Queenstown. When the sun dips behind the horizon, the sky turns into a gradient of oranges, it's a pretty unbeatable place to be. Soak up the atmosphere by heading down to the Esplanade on Lake Wakatipu. While the evening away with a cocktail and nibbles at one of the waterfront bars—our picks go to Little Blackwood for cosy vibes or Eichardt's Bar for refined flavours.
Just 20 kilometres south of Dunedin central, you'll stumble upon Brighton beach, an expansive seaside wonderland. You'll be greeted by long stretches of sand ideal for an evening walk along on the beach. On the hill above, you can choose to look out over the horizon or back towards the city's shimmering lights. If you've spent a packed 12 hours exploring Dunners, we couldn't think of a better way to wind down the day.
One of the world's most southern beaches sure knows how to put on a show when the sun goes down. Oreti Beach is just a breezy 10-minute drive from Invercargill. It offers all the sunset essentials, with the added bonus of being able to drive your car straight onto the beach. So even if there's a chill in the air, you don't need to miss out on your sunset fix—score.
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We are graffiti and contemporary artists. We create visual stories that connect us to the whenua (land) and to the tangata whenua (local people) we encounter along the way. Tāmaki Makaurau / Auckland is my turangawaewae. I grew up in South Auckland and we still live there with our four teenage children. Charles moved here at 13 from a challenging childhood and for him Auckland was a place of opportunity. He started a graffiti crew (TMD) in the early 90s that went on to win the world championship (twice), and holds a Guinness World Record for the world’s longest graffiti scroll in Dubai alongside the Ironlak Team.
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