The black sand shores and rolling surf of Piha Beach are 25 miles (40 kilometers) from Auckland on the western coast of the Waitakere Ranges. The beach is characterized by imposing cliffs and wild subtropical rain forest.
The population of Piha is small, and the village consists of a local store, a library, campgrounds and a café. Accommodation ranges from camping and cabins to bungalows and bed-and-breakfasts, but places are limited, so it’s a good idea to book well in advance during the busy times around Easter, June/July and December.
There’s not much in the way of dining out in Piha, but it’s just a short drive to restaurants and vineyards in the Henderson valley.
Piha is well known as a surf beach, where board riding was introduced to New Zealand by visiting Californians. A local surf school runs classes for those wanting to learn how to ride the waves. The surf can get quite wild, so only swim in patrolled areas and check with the local surf clubs before going surfing or fishing. Surfers sometimes encounter endangered Maui’s dolphins off Piha Beach.
Walking trails offer access to the rain forest and headland vistas. Take a hike through New Zealand’s ancient kauri trees, which were once under threat from logging. Make sure you take your camera and swimming costume on the walk to KiteKite waterfall, which drops 131 feet (40 meters) over three tiers into a clear pool.
Piha is accessible by car, and the scenic drive takes you right through the Waitakere Ranges. Free parking and public toilets are available on Marine Parade South. There is no gas station in Piha, so it’s a good idea to top up in the village of Titirangi on the way.