As the sun sinks in streaks of copper and bronze behind the headland, pools of gold appear in the low-tide sand.

The rasping cries of kaka punctuate the still evening as they fly home to roost; black shapes against a clear blue sky. Far away across the sea, the cityscape of Auckland forms a jagged horizon. We can just make out the blinking navigation light atop the Sky Tower.

Once the sun dips below the horizon we entice the kids out of the twilight bush with the lure of iPads – not to remove them from the moment, but to engage with it.

“Look! It’s Venus!” The first bright star of the evening. Holding their screens aloft they turn slowly to get their bearings – registering the bright half moon above the beach and picking out constellations that haven’t yet emerged from the dusky sky.

As it grows darker, the actual stars begin to appear, right where the iPad apps say they should be. There is the twinkle of Mars, the blinking trio making up Orion’s belt, the bright blur of Matariki.

We look through screens to learn the names of constellations and then through binoculars to pick out the real thing, lying back on the cool dark beach in wonder.

Reported by Jo Pervical for our AA Directions Winter 2019 issue

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