One of the most popular surf spots in New Zealand lies on the coast of the Tasman Sea, and only about 600 people live there. Piha Beach is a beautiful spot for a day-long surf session and is only about 40km west of Auckland, New Zealand. Its black, iron-sand beaches and rugged terrain make for an awe-inspiring place to catch some waves, and are some of the many reasons you should try bodysurfing/handplaning there.
Piha Beach was the birthplace of New Zealand surf culture in the 1950s. Many national and international surf competitions take place at Piha, and for good reason. While Piha's popularity with beachgoers is a given, it's still a relatively uncrowded spot to shred. Unpredictable rip currents make Piha Beach a spot recommended for strong surfers and swimmers only.
Lion Rock, an eroded 16-million-year-old volcanic rock, majestically divides North and South Piha into two black sand beaches. The beaches are black due to their high iron content from volcanic origins. Behind the beaches sit an alluring chain of hills and protected sub-tropical forest, called the Waitakere Ranges, that add to Piha's beauty and isolation. With isolation however, comes unpredictability, according to Piha's website:
"It can be moody, misty and mysterious, wild, wet and wind-swept. The power goes off, the phone lines come down, sometimes the road (in and out) gets blocked. Living here is not for the faint hearted."
The waves at Piha are well worth the risk to many surfers and bodysurfers. Even when the swell is small, good surf shows up at North Piha beach, and "wedgy peaks break on both sides of Lion Rock where currents can help with the paddle out," according to Magic Seaweed's Piha Spot Guide. Next time you're visiting Auckland, make the day trip to Piha Beach and prepare to be amazed.