15 Best Places to see the Sunrise in Auckland, New Zealand: The City's Eastern Beaches

April 18, 2020
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BEFORE the lockdown hit, I’d decided that I would update my book on New Zealand.

I thought it would be nice to add some information on where to see sunrises from, all the more so as New Zealand is ‘first to see the new day’, being so far east.

As I was in Auckland, I decided to drive from where I was staying in Point Chevalier, west of downtown, to St Heliers east of the downtown area to see the sunrise over the water there. And then make my way west on foot along Kohimarama Beach to Mission Bay and its memorial to the former Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage. And then finally to Ōkahu Bay a little further west.

Here’s a map showing the area I visited, inside the red box. Kohimarama Beach is the long beach between Mission Bay and St Heliers, and Ōkahu Bay is the westward facing bay at the far left where highway number 7 is indicated.

Background Map data ©2020 Google. North at top.

These are great spots for seeing the sunrise, because they look out over water to the north and to the east. And because you can see the great, green volcano of Rangitoto Island, and the other islands of the great waterway through which ships approach Auckland from the east, which is known as the Hauraki Gulf. It’s also possible to sail into Auckland from the west, but the western approaches are much more dodgy for shipping. The western coast is really wild, the coast shown in the film The Piano. The Hauraki Gulf is quite sheltered by comparison.

Auckland from Space. Satellite photography is from NASA Earth Observatory Image Auckland_17_2002239. North at top

“Let’s face it, it is a gorgeous site to build a city,” the Australian urbanist Peter Newman has said. And this stretch of urban beach is one of the best bits. Here’s a video about Mission Bay from Destination Auckland, on Youtube.

It was March, and sunrise was at about 6:45 am. I got up at 5:30 and arrived in St Heliers at six. I was amazed at the number of joggers out and that the cafes were already open, with first responders having takeaway coffee on the park benches, as I continued to a walk and take photos from bay to bay. There was a a great opportunity to read the New Zealand Herald and have a cappucino after I’d done my hike.

Always, Rangitoto Island was on my right. I couldn’t resist taking a selfie.

The sun begin to peep up by the time I got to Mission Bay.

Mission Bay includes a memorial to the much-loved Prime Minister who guided New Zealand out of the Great Depression of the 1930s, Michael Joseph Savage.

Michael Joseph Savage, 1930s. Source: Archives New Zealand, CC-BY-2.0

Savage died during World War II and was interred under the huge memorial.

It’s on a hill, and I had to climb up to get to it.

If you look at this Covid-19 briefing by the current Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, you can see a portrait of Savage in the background.

So, that’s the significance of the Savage Memorial. It’s almost worth being dead for, to be commemorated like that!

It’s in a great park on top of the hill.

I filmed a short video from the memorial:

And got a view of the city centre and the Auckland Harbour Bridge.

This area, known as Bastion Point, or as Kohimarama or Takaparawhā in Māori, is also the site of a famous Māori land dispute and protest action that took place in 1978.

And finally, Ōkahu Bay.

I was amazed. All along, Rangitoto was in the background and the other Hauraki Gulf Islands.

"Today is one of Auckland’s ravishing days of exquisite beauty, enough to make a man foreswear [sic] heaven & worship the beauty of the lower earth."

Thus wrote John Logan Campbell, one of the founders of Auckland, a man who could nevertheless be critical of local society, as compared to the city’s delightful setting:

"‘All save the face of man is divine.’ I would not allow my two girls to remain & run the risk of being ‘colonial’ . . ."

Too late for me, I guess! Anyhow, this is the first of several posts on sunrises in Auckland, that I’m going to be putting up over the next few weeks, among others.


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