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Bush and beach walks

Piha beach and the surrounding area contain an abundance of awesome bush and beach walks. Piha Beachstay is located at the heart of the Waitakere Ranges with easy access to all of the nearby walks.


Quick History

  • Piha has a interesting history dating from the early days of the Maori - Te Kawerau a Maki during the 17th Century through to the European Settlers arriving in the 1830's -40's.
  • Kauri Timber Milling endured over the 1850's to 1930's. To help transport the kauri logs to the mill, as many as 100 dams were built in the ranges during the 19th and early 20th centuries, some of which can still be found, most notably Black Rock Dam. Some wooden stringers remain in place over the Piha Stream.
  • Probably the most remarkable acheivement was the 14 km Tramway taking timber down the coast along beaches and over steep bluffs to the Paratutae Wharf at Whatipu.
  • By the time the timber fellers had finished they had taken 1.2 million cubic metres of timber leaving bare hills and a few remote stands of mature kauri. With the development of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park the forest is well on the way to a full recovery.
  •  The Geological History of the Waitakere Ranges dates back 22 million years to when the Waitakere Volcano erupted from the sea floor for 7 million years. It gradually grew until it was 50km in diameter and 3000m in height forming islands above the ocean. You can see the rock of the waitakeres is a mixture of rocks, gravel sand and water from the underwater lahars.
  • About 16 million years ago the Waitakere Volcano was thrust up out of the sea and was slowly eroded over the next 10 million years leaving behind the ridges, gullies and volcanic bombs. 

Recommended Walking Tracks


Lion Rock - 10 minutes

This iconic island in the middle of the beach resembles a sitting lion. You can climb over halfway up the back to get a great view of the beach.

Tasman view Lookout - 45 minute round trip

The lookout is at the southern end of Piha Beach and has stunning views out to the Tasman sea. A track leads you right infront of the Gap, spilling water into the Bluepools. When there is low tide you can walk back along the beach and discover the Keyhole.

KiteKite falls - 1 hour return

Beautiful walk into the splendid isolation of this valley of native rainforest. This is a great place to swim in summer (or in winter if you are really keen) Recently a history of the Kauri Tree Logging in the area has been presented with displays along the track.

Kitenui - 30 minutes return
Very rewarding views to the beach from the steep hill just next to Piha Beachstay.
Whites Beach - 2 hours return

Excellent small beach north of Piha and a nice lookout on the way. There are a few different tracks to Whites Beach. If you just want to go to the lookout it will take you about 30 minutes one way.

Black Rock Dam - 2 hours and 20 minutes return

Picturesque track along the Piha Stream to the former timber dam. The remains are traces of the intensive milling for kauri timber which finally stopped in 1921.



Mercer Bay Loop Track -
1 hour return + 10 minutes drive from Piha Beachstay

A pleasing easy walk at the top of the Piha Hill with views of the Tasman sea and the coastlines from 100 m vertical cliffs and a lighthouse. You can carry on from here down to Karekare Beach. Really keen explorers can also scramble down the steep track to Mercer Bay and discover the huge caves.

Karekare Beach 15 minutes to drive from Piha Beachstay

Location for the Oscar winning movie "The Piano". Explore the lakes and the black sand dunes south of the beach, do one of the tracks listed below or just make a relaxing picnic at this huge beach.

Zion Hill Track and Pararaha Valley 3 hours return

tramping half way in the bush and walking back along the beach between the lakes, interesting rock formations and a small tunnel.

Karekare Waterfall & Opalpools 20 minute return

Small hidden paradise just beside the road in Karekare. Walk up the Lone Kauri Road for a few minutes - it's on the left side. As you're walking to the waterfall you've got the chance to have a dip in the nearby refreshing Opal Pools.

Anawhata Beach1 hour return + 45 minutes drive from Piha Beachstay

Spectacular beach that can only be reached by a 30 minutes walk. The track starts at the end of the Anawhata Rd, a gravel, narrow and winding road - so drive carefully.

Upper Nihotupu Dam - 
1 hour 30 minues retrun + 30 minutes drive from Piha Beachstray

From Piha Road and an easy 4km return. View the waterfall, reservoir and dam.

Waitakere Dam - 4 hours 30 minutes return + 40 minutes drive from Piha Beachstay

From Scenic Drive this walk offers variety with the dam and reservoir, many large Kauri and the historic tramline with tunnel

Fairy Falls - 1 hour 30 minutes + 30 minutes drive from Piha Beachstay
From the Scenic Drive carpark, explore the mature kauri forest, dramatic waterfalls and the views of Auckland City


Bethells Beach (Te Henga) -
50 minutes drive north from Piha

Explore this remote West Coast beach, walk over the hill to O'Neills, explore the caves or walk over the big black sand dunes to Lake Wainamu (30 minutes one way).

Muriwai Beach - 1 hour drive north from Piha

Visit the Gannet Colony on this wild West coast beach. There is a cafe/store for lunch.

Whatipu - 1 hour drive south of Piha

It's a remote beach that forms the north head of Manukau Habour. The road is narrow and windy and you have to cross a fjord. But it's worth to go there - there are a lot of beutiful things to see like the large cave that was once used for dances or do one of the tracks mentioned below.

Whatipu-Bibbons Track - 6 hours return

Picturesque track to the Pararaha Valley where it leads down to the beach and back to Whatipu.

Kura-Omanawanui Track - 4 hours return

A track with spectacular views across the Manukau harbour and the Whatipu valley.