Piha ~ New Zealand Beach Files

Accounts of beaches I’ve visited in New Zealand

In which I visit Piha, again

So I’m fully enjoying the summer that’s available to me here. I’ve taken the odd day off from the kennels to have a wander around the area and enjoy the sun, sorry England.

One of the beaches that I visited in Christmas 2012 was Piha, a beach on the west coast of New Zealand, 40km from Auckland, so I decided to revisit it again and spend a lovely hot day there.

First, the lowdown:

Where: 40km from Auckland, out in Waitakere (pronounced why-tack-e-ree)
Best for: Surfing, bodyboarding (or boogie boarding depending on where you’re from), sunbathing, walks, dogs (there’s a dog friendly section!)
Famous for: Black sand, Lion Rock, dangerous rips, TV series called Piha Rescue

To get to Piha you drive through the windy Waitakere Ranges Reginonal Park; there’s one road in and one road out so it’s not easy to get lost, though I’d like to see someone try. Just before you reach Piha, there’s a bend in the road before you go down the hill to the beach. Stop on the left hand side in the lookout, it’s really worth it with a view like this (and safe to do it going into Piha, rather than back out again):

View in Piha

There are plenty of places to park in Piha, although during the summer it can get really busy around the surf club – we were lucky and got a great spot as it was midweek, but really, nowhere is really far from the beach itself.

Before you get settled into sunbathing/splashing in the water, it’s really worth taking a walk along the length of the beach itself. You can thoroughly enjoy the black sand, and how it turns into a crust which feels great to stand on and break, (although mind the driest stuff on a hot day, it’s lethally hot!) and admire Lion Rock and decide whether it does look like a lion, or an elephant, depending on your point of view.

black sand and lion rock at Piha

At the north end of Piha beach is Te Waha Point. Here you can climb up a track and on one side view back along Piha beach, whilst on the other, you can view a a secluded beach the other side and up the coast.

Piha beach from Te Waha

Now it’s back to what you came to the beach to do, sunbathe and play in the sea! You must swim between the flags here, as even for a strong swimmer (which I consider myself to be), the rips will pull you one way or another. Fortunately, the day I went it was pulling back to the beach, however sometimes it’s out to sea, so you need to take care you don’t end up in a starring role on Piha Rescue.

It’s a hard life.

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Once you’re all worn out at the end of the day, take a moment to have an ice cream and sit on the lifeguard’s bench – see what they see when on patrol. It’s a big beach and they do an absolutely fantastic job.

Bennett at Piha

Clearly not doing a very good lifeguarding job and just playing with my “jandals”

Finally, if you’re feeling up to it, climb up the Tasman Lookout Track at the south end of the beach for another completely different, but just as stunning view of Piha.

I was a little disappointed when I saw this sign however, as that day I did not see any. 🙁

Penguin sign, Piha

“Sad Bennett face”

All in all, Piha is an awesome day out. Take a picnic, take your dog, even take your Grandma. A beach with plenty to do, just keep safe in the water.

What do you think of Piha? Look enticing enough for you?

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Author: Bennett

2 years as an expat in China and now doing the same in New Zealand, Bennett sure likes to experience "slow travel!"

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  1. Beautiful! Although I’m from neighbouring Australia, I’ve hardly seen any of New Zealand. I guess when you grow up near a place you tend to take it for granted – you tell yourself that “it will always be there – I’ll see it later”. But considering people travel so far especially to see New Zealand, I guess I’m the one missing out!

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    • Thanks Tim! I think it’s always the same when you live somewhere you take it for granted. I have a lot more respect for the UK now I’ve not been home in almost 18 months!

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  2. I agree. Life on the beach is so freaking hard. Lovely photos. I’m so jeaaaalous Miss Bennett!!

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    • Haha, everyone in the northern hemisphere is jealous at the mo. More beaches to come and rub it in! 😛 x

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  3. Lucky you have your summer right now! It’s a mite chilly here in Vancouver, Canada :-). When we were in New Zealand, we loved the beaches in the Bay of Islands – almost tropical up there.

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    • I am also making my family and friends at home in the UK jealous too! I’ve not made it to the Bay of Islands yet, but I’m sure I’ll get up there at some point!

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