Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

Crowds hit the beaches

Some protest, others enjoy sun

Yesterday's sunshine lured hundreds to Mission Bay. Photo / Doug Sherring
Yesterday's sunshine lured hundreds to Mission Bay. Photo / Doug Sherring

It was a day for the beaches yesterday - to protest out west or just to relax on the east.

More than 3,000 people turned up at beaches from Muriwai to Wanganui to oppose deep-sea oil drilling in New Zealand waters.

Meanwhile, surfers, swimmers and sunbathers flocked to the beaches to enjoy the hottest weekend since summer last year.

WeatherWatch forecaster Philip Duncan said the signals were clear for a great weekend on Friday.

"It was 18°C at 11pm on Friday and sky was completely clear." There had been very light winds and not a lot of cloud this week, giving the sun a chance to warm up the upper North Island.

Protesters turned up in droves, waving and carrying banners, to support the Oil Free Seas flotilla where oil giant Anadarko intends to begin drilling off the coast of Raglan.

Piha hosted more than 1,000 to listen to speeches and watch a haka. Around 400 people joined the protest at Muriwai, 500 at Bethells Beach, and almost 750 at Raglan.

More turned out at 34 other beaches up and down the country.

Steve Abel, Greenpeace climate campaigner, said: "We have this incredible potential for clean energy (in New Zealand).

"We are actually a powerhouse on clean energy, so it's just a no-brainer for people," he said.

"The Government will be getting a very strong message today that this drilling is not wanted, and Anadarko will be getting that message too."

New Zealand women's national surfing champion Micha Davis and Labour MP Phil Twyford spoke at the event in Piha.

Yesterday, many North Island beaches were hot spots. Whakatane peaked with 25.8°C.

Surf spots such as Raglan and Mangawhai also noted big swells throughout the day, with up to 300 visitors on the beaches at one time. Lifeguards reported few concerns.

Duncan said high temperatures were likely to persist in the coming week.

- Additional reporting by Jacob Steiner

- Herald on Sunday

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