A Short Guide to Piha, New Zealand

Piha (pronounced pee-ha) is a small costal town. Located on the North Island, in the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, New Zealand. It’s located roughly 1 hour from Auckland.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to visit here at first, but damn I am happy that I did! The first views of the coast on the very windy road down to the town, were spectacular. I love a rugged coastline, and this coastline is rugged. At first sight it almost reminded me of something out of a movie, unworldly almost. 

If you only have a couple days on the North Island, I highly recommend you make this one of your stops! 

Where to stay

I believe the only place to stay in Piha is the Piha Domain Motor Camp, which offers powered and unpowered camping. There is plenty of space in the campgrounds and the amenities are in great condition.

Where to Eat?

There aren’t much options to eat in Piha. Actually when I arrived I was informed that the one shop was closed, so it might be best to stock up on supplies before visiting! 

When the shop did open the following day, I treated myself to an ice coffee. I was told they make a mean coffee, so as a coffee fanatic myself, I had to check it out.

It was delicious. Very smooth coffee. The caramel slice was also very nice – it’s a great little breakfast/lunch spot! 

What to do

I only had 1 day and 1 night in Piha, and I will admit half of that day was recovering from jet lag (because I stupidly forgot about this factor when planning this trip). I got to see a lot of the main attractions, but I missed some of the hidden gems this town has to offer. 

Piha Beach

This was the first time I have ever seen a black sand beach, and it was everything I thought it would be and more. The sand is almost grey/black which is unique in itself. The beach offers an almost Jurassic feel, with its large cliffs, steep drop offs and misty aura. I do not have the words to describe how mystical this place feels. 

I spent several hours taking photos and just admiring the views of this spectacular coastline. If you have a drone this is  the place to fly it! Also make sure you stay for sunset.

Tasman Lookout

This is a relatively easy walk along Piha beach, which leads up the cliffs to a spectacular lookout over the beach. This is a great activity to add on while you are visiting Piha beach. The hike itself took me about 45mins from the campsite (Phia Domain Motor Camp), and is a full loop track. 

There are a few steep climbs up some stairs to the view point, but other than that it is a relatively pleasant walk. 

Kitekite Falls

Pronounced *kitty kitty* 

This was the first waterfall I saw during my time in New Zealand, and was it a great one to start off with! 

This waterfall can be reached by either walking from the campsite OR by starting at the trail head. I was told by the lovely staff at the campsite to leave my car there, and walk. As some people have experienced break ins at the trail head carpark. 

From the campsite, you walk up the road (directions can be found on maps) – which is fairly easy. Where the trail starts, you will need to clean your boots prior to entering. From the first steps, the scenery reminded me of somewhere tropical, like the hikes I have done in the Philippines and Thailand. 

The hike to waterfall was pretty easy, some light uphill sections but the majority of it was fairly flat and easy. There are also two paths you can take, one which takes you to the bottom of the waterfall, and one to the top. I didn’t complete the one to the top, as I was short on time. 

This falls was massive, well it felt massive to me (not a lot of waterfalls in Australia). Just look at the photos! If it wasn’t too cold, it would have been a great place for a refreshing dip.

Make sure to give yourself enough time to really enjoy this waterfall. I would recommend giving yourself 3-4hrs to fully enjoy this falls and complete the hike. It took myself about 2.5hrs to complete the whole hike. 

Karekare Falls

Pronounced *car-ree, car-ree* 

This falls is located about a 15min drive from Kitekite falls, as is a great option to visit either while arriving or leaving Piha – as it is just outside the town. 

This waterfall is only a 5min walk from the road, infact you can see it from the road. This is another spectacular waterfall, and worth taking an hour out of your day to visit. 

It’s also worth visiting Karekare beach if you have time!

Surfing at Piha Beach

I personally didn’t do this, but Piha is a very popular place to surf. In fact there is a school where you can take surf lessons if you please. 

Click here for a detailed two week North Island itinerary!

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