Second entry on my list…

…of places I would love to live one day: Piha Beach. (First entry was La Mision, Baja).

(Pictured: South Piha Beach) The rest of New Zealand (now, granted, we haven’t yet visited the South Island) has been lovely, but hasn’t grabbed me like this place has. Piha is heaven. It’s nestled in the Waitakere Ranges, which is natural New Zealand rainforest and volcanic ranges. It’s the first place we’ve seen Kauri trees – and they’re all over, including a beautiful specimen in our hosts’ front yard. Of course, heaven to me isn’t complete without a perfect beach, and Piha certainly delivers. Black sand (iron) beaches and volcanic rock tidepools, and world-famous surfing breakers. Waterfalls are a short walk away. Dozens of walking tracks crisscross the countryside, through the forest, to the various peaks; there’s even a walk that you can take through the “gap” past Lion Rock, which is the only way you can see the arch (a natural rock arch through which the ocean roars) or the blowhole (an unusual rock formation that forces incoming waves up through a tiny hole at great pressure).

It sounds like it should be a tourist nightmare, right? It’s not (well, it gets busy in summer), for a few reasons. First, there is no public transportation to get here – it is impossible to get to Piha without your own vehicle or a ride. Second, there are no restaurants or shops (except one takeaway joint, a few hidden surf shops, and one very small “general” store hidden up a hill), and very few accommodation options. The council here wants the beach to stay hidden, stay natural, and has held on with an iron grip for decades. The beach is hidden, and it is natural. No one flaunts their money here – that stays in the city. Piha is only an hour drive from Auckland, but it feels worlds apart.

(Pictured: Our host house). One of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with this place may be our legendarily hospitable hosts. The house is up in the rainforest, backing up to the Regional Forest, and we are in a gorgeous spare room with a nice comfy bed. There are two friendly pups, three cats (only one of whom is a real lovey), and two horses down the road in their paddock. Last night, Denise made some salad and some nachos – they’re very laidback. Rollie represented New Zealand in the World Surf Championships in California back in the 70s, so he is apparently a bit of a surfing legend around here – he still surfs often. Very neat people! We are honored to be their first CouchSurf guests.

Looks like this will be our last real stop before finding a hotel close to the airport for Tuesday night – Denise has offered that we can stay here as long as we need. It’s fine by me – I can’t get enough of this place.

About rhysfunk

Rhys Martin was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 1981. In 2009, he sold everything he owned and left the country, living out of a backpack for ten months. He discovered a passion for photography while traveling throughout Southeast Asia and Europe. After returning home, he looked at his home town and Oklahoma heritage with fresh eyes. When he began to explore his home state, Rhys turned his attention to historic Route 66. As he became familiar with the iconic highway, he began to truly appreciate Oklahoma’s place along the Mother Road. He has traveled all 2,400 miles of Route 66, from Chicago to Los Angeles. He has also driven many miles on rural Oklahoma highways to explore the fading Main Streets of our small towns. Rhys has a desire to find and share the unique qualities of the Sooner State with the rest of the world. Cloudless Lens Photography has been featured in several publications including This Land, Route 66 Magazine, Nimrod Journal, Inbound Asia Magazine, The Oklahoman, and the Tulsa World. In 2018 he published his first book, Lost Restaurants of Tulsa. Rhys loves to connect with people and share his experiences; ask him about enjoyable day trips from Tulsa, locations along Route 66, and good diners or burger joints along the way.
This entry was posted in New Zealand, Old Travelogue, Written by Indi. Bookmark the permalink.

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