04 August 2013

Three go mad in Piha

Piha beach is about 40 kilometres from central Auckland city, on the west coast. The mighty Tasman Sea rolls – sometimes thunders – onto this long stretch of black iron-sand, which is divided by the huge and iconic Lion Rock. Though the rock is looking less and less like a lion as water and wind erode its leonine profile, it is still an easily-recognisable feature of what is, arguably, New Zealand’s best-known surf beach.

Surfing and swimming here can be dangerous, as the beach has rips and currents that can pull your feet out from under you in an instant so, in summer, it’s always best to swim between the flags. In the winter, the volunteer lifeguards leave those crazy enough to swim the cold waters to guard their own safety and there are usually only a few hardy surfers braving the waves.

On Saturday it was wonderfully warm, considering it’s mid winter, and the forecast rain had not yet arrived, though the clouds rolling in from the north east hinted at a few showers later – and also made for some dramatic skies. We had a mouth-wateringly delicious lunch at the Piha Café before our walk – their Ginger Steamer was divine – then walked that off along the sands.

It’s a great place for a walk, especially in winter, when the black sand hasn’t been heated by the sun’s rays to sole-scorching temperatures. You can climb up part of the Lion – the path to the very top has now been closed due to crumbling rock – as my friends Sue and Rosie did yesterday, leaving me to stroll the shore looking for photo opportunities. 

We didn’t exactly go as mad as my title implies, but we did come away invigorated by the refreshing blast of sea air. A superb afternoon!

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