- "Piha" is also the common name for birds from the genera Lipaugus (typical pihas) and Snowornis.
Piha is a coastal settlement in northern New Zealand. It is one of the most popular resorts in the area and a major day-trip destination for Aucklanders throughout the year, although especially so in summer. Piha Beach is the setting for a popular New Zealand Reality television show, aptly named "Piha Rescue", it has currently been running for 3 seasons on TV1 and features the lives of the surf life savers on Piha Beach.
It is located 28 kilometres west of Auckland
city centre, on the Tasman Sea
coast to the north of the Manukau Harbour
, amidst the Waitakere Ranges
The area has retained much of its natural beauty and isolation. The rugged coastline and forested Waitakere Ranges offer a number of walks, or tramps, ranging from easy to very difficult. Close to the beach are the Kitekite Falls which while not very large are picturesque. Swimming is possible all seasons (though only for the cold hardened outside of summer) in a pool just above the falls. At the bottom of the falls is a sheltered picnic area popular with families in the summer time.
Lion Rock, a natural formation named for its similarity to a lying male lion when viewed from the rear (shore side), is a natural formation dividing North and South Piha beaches. Lion Rock is immediately visible to visitors as they descend along the only access road. Lion Rock has become iconic not only of Piha, but of Auckland's West Coast in general. It was featured on stamps as well as an Auckland phone book. A blowhole
is also located at Piha.
Piha was the birthplace of New Zealand board riding in 1958
, and has been the scene of both New Zealand national and international surfing championship competitions. Two Surf Lifesaving
clubs provide surf patrols in summer. United North Piha Lifeguard Service
is responsible for the section of the beach north of Lion Rock and Piha Surf Life Saving Club
patrols the section of the beach to the south of Lion Rock. Both clubs provide patrolled areas designated by red and yellow flags as is the custom with Surf Lifesaving in New Zealand and many other countries.
The rip currents
along this section of coast are very unpredictable and can shift with little warning. They claim many lives despite the efforts of surf life-savers. Most of these drownings, however, occur after lifeguards are off duty or after rock fisherman wearing heavy clothing are washed off rocks, out of sight of the lifeguards. Lifeguards advise swimming between the red and yellow flags, during patrol hours.
Immediately to the north of Piha is Whites Beach, accessible only by foot. Mercer Bay is immediately to the south but is also only accessible by foot. The nearest beaches accessible by road are Karekare to the south, and Anawhata to the north.