Road Trip Number 1: Piha Beach

Today we made our first trip outside of Auckland! We took a drive out west to Piha. It’s only about 45 minutes outside of the city but feels like a totally different world. The road is pretty windy and steep as it goes over some mountains, but the car did well.

Our first stop was Piha beach. Technically Piha is considered a black sand beach. Woah! Black sand? That must look really cool! thought I, though in reality it wasn’t as black as I was expecting. It was more like regular sand with bits of black mixed in. This has something to do with the volcanic origins of the sand.

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Searching fruitlessly for the REAL black sand

There is a big rock called Lion Rock (if you look at it from the side it looks kind of like a seated lion) right in the middle of the beach.

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Can you see it?

There was a trail built into it that we used to hike part of the way up. Unfortunately the upper portion of the trail was closed off due to dangerous conditions. We briefly considered pressing on a bit further, but our fully developed 27 year old prefrontal cortexes made sure we gave up on any such dangerous flights of fancy. And despite only getting about halfway up the views of the beach were still impressive.

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We had to content ourselves with this mediocre vista.

It was pretty windy and apparently the rip current can be pretty dangerous so we just waded through some shallow sections of water. There were a few people in the water though and there were lifeguards (who you can see on the hit TV show Piha Rescue).

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Another frustratingly low view from halfway up lion rock. Note the rough looking waves.

After we spent some time at the beach we went for a quick drive up the road to the Kitekite waterfall. It was about a 25 minute easy hike from the car park. The waterfall was pretty large and impressive. Some people went swimming, but again it was a little too cold for us. There was another trail that went up to the top of the waterfall but we opted to loop around back to the car.

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Ooh aah! In reality the waterfall was much more than twice the size of our heads.

Our last stop was the Mercer Bay loop trail. This was my favorite part of the trip. The trail followed along the coastline on top of some very high cliffs that dropped down into the ocean below. If you leaned over to look down you could almost hear the ocean calling you. The views of the ocean from on top of the cliffs were pretty incredible.

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“Alana, come for a dip” whispered the waves as they broke on the rocks below.

There were some benches along the trail where you could stop and sit and just admire the view. There was also some interesting vegetation which we called broccoli trees because they looked like broccoli florets.

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Here we are about to head into a thick grove of broccoli trees.

The hike was about an hour round trip and there were several viewing areas with railings where you could get a great view of the surrounding cliffs. We had a few fun moment like when Alana tried to trip me or something, epically failed, and proceeded to run up the 30 degree grade of trail for a hundred meters or so, which wiped her out and cracked me up. All in all, it was a pretty great experience for our first day out of the city.

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Here we see Alana, thinking the kinds of deep thoughts you can only think while perched on a cliff hundreds of feet above the ocean. What kinds of deep thoughts are those you ask? Well you’ll have to come to Piha and find out for yourself.
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