I managed to get out to Piha this weekend – on Saturday night. It sounds like it was an effort, but in fact Piha is only half an hour’s drive from home on Auckland’s west coast, and ALWAYS a place I enjoy. It was just the thought of negotiating all the Christmas/weekend traffic and getting past the complicated roadworks presently impeding progress at Te Atatu motorway bridge – the only way on or off the peninsula – that stopped me.
Still, by the time I was winding my way up the Waitakere ranges to crest the hills and turn down toward the sea I knew I had made the right decision. At the top of the cliff overlooking Piha there is a viewing bay, and I took these photos there.
As you can imagine, it is a wonderful moment just standing here, staring out at the Tasman Sea, Australia well beyond view over the horizon, and just this wild coastline and Lion Rock below, looking majestically out at the breakers. This is one of New Zealand’s most well known surf beaches, and we even have a tv programme devoted to Piha Rescue (so many people drown or get caught in rips in this relatively small stretch of water). The actual beach is iron sand – black in places and too hot to walk on in barefeet on a summer day. It’s also very fine, which means it gets into everything, adding a grit to picnic lunches and being found in nooks and crannies long after return home.
I love walking along the beach here, having a coffee at either the store or the cafe, and have even set up my tent in the campground which takes up the central section of the flat space in the main township. My brother built a house here once, before going to America, and returns here whenever he comes home.
Piha is MEMORABLE. In the winter it is wild and often windy, in the summer it is a popular swimming spot, despite the ever present danger of rips and the occasional shark.
If ever I need time to think and reflect, it’s a perfect place to clear my head. There’s another beach where the family have a bach on the east coast further down the country – Waihi Beach. I’m bound to have a holiday there this summer, so I’ll save a blog about it until then. Meanwhile – take a deep breath of the salt spray breeze and hear the crashing surf of Piha, and be at peace.