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By Ben Selby
Stories plucked from the grapevine of great New Zealand Road Trips often involve a beach of some description. There is certainly no shortage of beaches in New Zealand, but one which happens to be totally unique is Piha.
Located next to the vast Waitakere Ranges, Piha stands out. Many Aucklanders make the pilgrimage to Piha every weekend. It has views, walks, the surf and the feeling of being away from it all. It also still relatively close to home.
The 50-minute drive to Piha is also a fun one, especially when behind the wheel of classic car. Here is a brief guide of how to get to Piha from Auckland, and how to enjoy the journey on the way to the seaside.
Starting from Auckland Central, make your way west along SH16. Yep, you are heading out west. Once you get the Waterview Connection, you leave SH16 by turning left onto Blockhouse Bay Road. Head along Blockhouse Bay Road until you get to Blockhouse Bay itself before turning right onto Kinross Street.
Follow Kinross to Green Bay past Craigavon Park. This park is quite secluded and sports some great picnic areas and places to walk, so if you have the time, its worth a stop.
Through Green Bay and onto Godley Road, you begin to notice your surroundings are becoming greener by the minute. This is a tell tale sign you are approaching the outskirts of the Waitakere Ranges.
Leaving Godley Road, you then merge left with Titirangi Road, and before you know it, you arrive in the quirky and arty Waitakere suburb of Titirangi.
Titirangi sports a number of restaurants, shops and other attractions like the Flicks Cinema and the Te Uru Waitakere Contemporary Gallery. Located in the grand sight of Lopdell House, this gallery boasts a grand collection of artworks and sculptures. Those with a penchant for art would be advised to check it out.
Over the speed bumps through the township, you arrive at a roundabout with sculptures. Turn left onto Scenic Drive and you are well on the way to Piha. Scenic drive continues on for some time, but the road itself begins to snake its way through leafy suburbia until you realise you are leaving human civilization far behin
Eventually you arrive at the Arataki Visitors Centre which is located on your left. Park up your classic here and admire the views of the marvellous Waitakeres. There are also plenty of walking trails. Just incase you have the desire to lace up that pair from Kathmandu and go for a stroll in the forest.
Back on the road, Scenic Drive continues until you reach an intersection. Here you bear left onto Piha Road. This is a heavy hint as to what you will arrive to if you travel on said road for long enough.
It is here the road to Piha increases in majesty. Ahead of you lie mile after a mile of twisting corners and sweeping straights, line either side with forests and greenery. Here is a chance for your classic, whatever it may be, to be enjoyed to the full
After you pass Te Ahuahu Road on your left, a few turns left and right remain before you can park up and enjoy your first sight of the beauty that is Piha Beach. The Piha Beach Lookout makes for a great photo op. It also gives you a panoramic view of the beach, the famous Lion Rock and the Tasman Sea.
A short drive later, and you arrive in Piha itself. Here you can have a bite to eat at Piha Café or Cones on the Beach. You can also enjoy a picnic on the sand, or just go for a walk along one of New Zealand’s most iconic beaches.
A day trip to Piha is a Kiwi classic, especially when driving a classic or vintage car.