Piha - The Birth Place of Surfing in New Zealand

Surfing is one of the most popular recreations in NZ and it was when two Californians arrived at Piha Beach on the west coast of Auckland that it all began

Piha Beach is unique with its massive rock formations that look like a Lion (in the centre of the beach), and a Camel (at the southern headland), that create a sheltered bay that is perfect for beginner through to advanced surfers.

Two Californians, Bing Copeland and Rick Stoner arrived at Piha Beach in 1958 and mesmerised the young and  most impressionable lifeguards of the Piha Surf Lifesaving Club. Soon they too were riding across the Tasman Sea breakers as they first rose up by Taitomo Island (Camel Rock) and peeled across the bay towards Lion Rock.

The northerly aspect of Piha Beach and protection given from Taitomo Island and the 'Cove' inside it, meant even the predominant south westerly wind could still create clean faces in the southern corner, giving surfers brilliant rides when there was nothing on offer on the rest of the west coast.

The high percentage of 'good' surfing days at Piha has resulted in it leading the way in the development of surfing from a young local, Peter Byers, setting up the first surfboard factory at Piha in 1960, to a number of National Surfing Championship tournaments being held there, and then in 2010, the prestigious World Junior Surfing Champs being contested for seven days in Piha waters.

The most attractive thing for surfers at Piha Beach is the consistency in rips and currents that cause the waves to peel giving the surfer longer rides.  The consistency in water movement also makes it the safest beach on Auckland's west coast for beginner surfers and swimmers alike.

With all surf beaches, inexperienced swimmers should heed caution and ask the lifeguards or a local surfer where the safest place to swim is or stay in the middle of the breakers in the centre of the beach where there are no out going rips.  The rule is: When the swell is under 2 metres, only go to waist deep.  When the swell is over 2 metres, only go to knee deep and when in doubt - stay out.

Piha is a fantastic destination for visitors to New Zealand with a waterfall, a world class cafe, and beautiful bush walks either side of the beach.  It is only 45 minutes from downtown Auckland but please remember the nearest petrol stations and ATM machines are 30 kms away on the outskirts of the Auckland City.   

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