Piha is located on the edge of the Waitākere Ranges on the west coast of Auckland and is only a one-hour drive from downtown. But it is still a small beach town with just 1000 people, a few cafes and shops, and a motor camp. Given how amazingly beautiful it is, it continues to surprise us how traditionally kiwi it still feels.

But amongst the many gems of Auckland, few pack so much scenic punch as Piha. It starts with the drive through the Waitākere Ranges along Scenic Drive and Piha Road, surrounded by native forest.

On Piha Road, take time out to check the waterfalls on the walk to the Upper Nihotupu Reservoir or the abandoned dam on the nearby Ian Wells Track. Then crest the final hill for the iconic view of Lion Rock and the black sand surf beach. Drive down the hill through the small town to the beach. It can be crowded in summer at the south end. But the beach is almost four km long and there is easy access to North Piha on Marine Parade and North Piha Road.

The beach offers some of the best surfing in the North Island. If you want to swim, there are two surf patrol areas; one south of Lion Rock at the south end of the beach and a second one on the north of Lion Rock. Like all the Auckland west coast beaches, it is not safe to swim outside of the flagged areas. Take the warnings seriously.

The town and beach are also surrounded by high hills, cliffs and forest. This provides some of the best coastal and forest tracks in the North Island. These include Kitekite Falls, White Track to Anawhata Road, Laird Thomson Track and Rose Track to remote Whites Beach. Another option is the Tasman Lookout to the Gap. From the Gap, see if you can find the Blowhole. Walking through it at low tide and exploring the other side is a blast! From Te Ahuahu Road you can also access the superb Mercer Bay Loop.

Several of the tracks are part of Te Ara Tūhura Hillary Trail. You can also do something different and spend a couple of days camping and hiking into Piha from Little Huia!

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