About 45 min outside of Auckland is the nearest surf beach, Piha. Its an interesting drive, as you have to traverse through about 6 suburbs. There aren’t really highways, so driving can be difficult as the towns aren’t gridded at all, and roads wined and merge and change names willy nilly. 30 min into the drive the city fades away and there is a large ridge that separates you from the coast. The road turns in to a windy switchback road through dense bush, and the occasional picturesque house perched on a mountain side. Once over the ridge there is a quick decent into the small beach town of Piha.
A huge monolith called Lion rock separates the beach into north and south. South Piha has a great left coming off a cliff and a middle, fat beach brake with a soft take off and pitchy inside. On the north side of Lion rock is a left and then unlimited peaks all the way up the 2 kilometer beach. The sand is dark, not black but more of a mixture of light sand with black grain sprinkled in. Looking back from the water there are steep lush green foothills that meet the beach and a lagoon that helps split the beach even more.
The steep beach combined with a west direction allows the full energy of the Tasman Sea to unleash massive swells onto the shore. Piha can get real messy, real quick, but if you can catch it right before, or after the storm its a rad spot. The proximity to the city makes this one of the more crowded spots in NZ, and I surfed it with about 20 guys…….still less of a crowd than a mellow day in So Cal.
I hadn’t surfed in a month. This was my first Surf in NZ. I was weak and completely unbalanced, but still caught a few 2 foot over head fun ones. I forgot to put sunscreen on, which is extra bad here, as the ozone layer hole here is a major concern for all the locals and tourists alike. I didn’t get to red though, which was surprising. Gots to remember to put my funscreen on!
The very next day I got up at 5:30 am and headed back to Piha. I should have checked the report, which may have mentioned the contest that was going on. I took a wrong turn and arrived about an hour later than I wanted, which made surfing an impossibility because I had to get back to the city to some intertneting work. Got some great pictures though!