Auckland’s other west coast beaches sneak up on you quietly,
but Piha hits you straight in the face
with a magnificent hillside views down to the 3km-long, black and gold double
strand. It is separated by the 101m-high Lion
Rock, the eroded remains of an ancient volcano which really does look like
a lying, bemaned lion, raised on its forepaws. Follow the steep path half way
up for great views of the surfers below and of the surrounding bush-clad hills thinly
dotted with expensive holiday homes.
To the local Maori,
Lion Rock is known as Te Piha, referring to the way the rock
separates the waves like a canoe prow forging through the water. That surf is
one of Piha’s main draws. If you’re swimming, stay safe and stick between the
flags, a section of the beach intensely monitored by the local surf club.
If a walk along the beach isn’t enough, head south over the
headlands to some wild coastal scenery, or inland to Kitekite Falls, a 45min walk through some lovely bush.
Head to Piha Café for coffee and lunch, Blair’s on the Beach for takeaway burgers and icecreams, the surf club next door for a sundowner or
the Bowling Club or RSA for dinner. The last three are for members, but
visitors can ask and a member will usually sign you in.