A remote and idyllic beach where striking emerald cliffs and lush rainforests meet black sandy shores and clear blue waters.
Located about 40 kilometres from Auckland on the west coast of the Waitakere Ranges, Piha Beach is a stunning black sand beach set in a dramatic landscape of imposing cliffs and subtropical rainforest.
Popular with surfers, it was here that board riding was first introduced to New Zealand by visitors who came over from California. Piha has its own local surf school were novices can learn to ride the waves. The surf can be pretty wild in this location, so it’s advisable to stay within areas that are regularly patrolled. You should also find out about expected conditions with local surf clubs before heading out on the water to surf or fish. Off the coast of Piha, you may be lucky enough to get a glimpse of the endangered Maui dolphins.
Back on dry land, take a hike through the rainforest to see New Zealand’s ancient kauri trees, before taking in the great views from the headland. One of the walking trails goes to KiteKite waterfall, which cascades 40 metres down over three tiers and into a clear pool – the perfect spot for a few scenic photos and to enjoy a swim.
The village of Piha itself has a small community and only has a local shop, a library, a camp site and a café. A short drive away in the Henderson valley meanwhile you’ll find pleasant restaurants and picturesque vineyards.
If you’re looking for somewhere to stay in the area, there are campsites and cabins, as well as bungalows and bed and breakfast places dotted around the neighbourhood. Bear in mind that accommodation is limited, so it’s best to book your room well in advance, especially if you’re visiting in the busier months around Easter, June and July, or December.
Easy to reach by car, the drive through the Waitakere Ranges to Piha offers some breath-taking scenery. At Marine Parade South you’ll find free parking, although Piha doesn’t have a petrol station so make sure you fill up your vehicle at the village of Titirangi on the way.