Late afternoon surfing at Piha Beach, West Auckland

Piha is one of New Zealand's classic surf beaches. A typical “West Coast” beach on Auckland’s rugged Waitakere coast, Piha is famous for its reliable and often fearsome swell. While Piha is a mecca for surfers and swimmers alike, the often powerful surf here is also unforgiving and many lives have been lost to strong rip currents and heavy swells.

Piha’s famous swell usually originates in the subantarctic oceans far to the southwest of New Zealand, where westerly and southwesterly storms generate huge waves that can travel thousands of kilometres before they eventually reach land. Because of the great distances involved, swell conditions at Piha often bear little relationship to local weather conditions and heavy swells can arrive during calm spells or even against an offshore wind. This of course is perfect for surfing, which, when combined with Piha’s proximity to Auckland City, makes Piha perhaps the most popular surfing beach in New Zealand.

Sunrise at Castlepoint

View south from Maunganui Bluff

Pingao on dunes, 90 Mile Beach

Evening twilight over Rangitoto Island

Coastal cliffs, Tongaporutu

Piha, West Auckland

Pingao, Mangawhai Heads, Northland

Castlepoint Lighthouse at sunrise

Coastal cliffs at sunset, Tongaporutu

Australasian gannets, Muriwai

Sand dune, 90 Mile Beach

Twilight over Mt Taranaki

Pools at low tide, Oakura Beach

Waves on rocks, 90 Mile Beach

Australasian gannet colony, Muriwai

Wreck of the "Gairloch", Oakura Beach

Sunrise over Rangitoto Island