Part II: Piha

After our little walk, we got back in the car and continued down the road to Piha. Now, Godzilla is a fairly large beast and the lanes on the Piha road quickly narrowed to be about the width of our car. Naturally, the turns became tighter as well and the elevation gain and drop became steeper on our approach. It was a bit nerve-wracking, especially when other cars came barreling down the opposite side of the road on a tight turn, but M handled it well. We finally arrived in Piha, which turned out to be a scattered collection of worn buildings and a surprisingly small parking lot. It was the first sunny Sunday in a while so the lot was nearly full, but we managed to grab a beach-side spot. I shudder to think how difficult it is to park in the summer, though! This beach is the most popular for surfers and beach bums alike, for good reason: it is stunning.

Lion Rock or, if you're the Maoris and haven't seen a lion, a canoe prow.
Lion Rock or, if you’re the Maoris and haven’t seen a lion, a canoe prow.
The view in the other direction.
The view in the other direction. We’re headed towards that gap in the rocks.

 

The major feature of the beach is the towering Lion Rock, which one could climb up with the aid of some old stairs. These stairs are across a small beach stream, though, and of course M did not bring appropriate beach shoes. I did bring my sandals and so stuck a toe in the surf. It was quite cold but that didn’t seem to deter the groups of surfers who, even in August (think February in the northern hemisphere), were attempting to ride the waves. We contented ourselves with walking along the vast sandy beach.

Spot the three bird species!
Spot the three bird species!

We headed south into an area that’s apparently covered at high tide, though it seemed to us as wide as the rest of the beach. Right before the beach ended and cliffs began was a small deep tidal pool, beyond which was waves crashing violently onto the rocks. We climbed onto the rocks, over a thick carpet of mussels, and up the cliff.

Don't trip!
Don’t trip!

On top of the cliff, which we later found out was called Taitomo Island since it’s isolated from the beach at high tide, we had a great vista over the beach behind us and the ocean ahead of us. It was peaceful to bask in the sun and watch the huge waves crash into the cliff below.

Hard to tell, but that wave is giant!
Hard to tell, but that wave is giant!

All too soon, though, the sun started to go down and we hurried back to the car, not wanting to drive up the windy hill in the dark or, even worse, hit Auckland traffic. Luckily we avoided all of those things and ended the day by relaxing on our balcony with some beers. A good day that we’ll have to repeat again soon once the weather improves- we managed to go out on the nicest day in months!

—–

Apologies that this follow-up is so late: we’ve been busy with work visa applications to ensure that we can stay in this beautiful country for longer!

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