North Piha beach stretches from Lion Rock northwards to Te Waha Point, historically the site of the pa Wahangu. The small, often hazy beach at the north end of North Piha is Kohunui Bay, where you will find little blue penguins, oyster catchers and pippits – dogs are banned.
To Maori, North Piha beach was Waitetura – the wide and expansive bay – and was the site of a major battle in the 17th century in which Maki led his people in a victory over the Ngaoho people who had been occupying the Waitakere Ranges.
The beach has accreted a great deal over the 20th century so that Monkey (or Cub) Rock which once was an island at high tide is now surrounded by sand dunes.
The surf at North Piha is less even than Piha, though surfers are often to be found at Kohunui Bay and just north of the Lion Rock. Swimmers are strongly advised to only swim within patrolled areas, usually in front of the United North Piha Surf Club. There have been a number of drownings off the beach particularly in the area just north of the Lion and at the far northern end.
Beside the surf club on North Piha Road is the local community Barnett Hall, and the Les Waygood Reserve carpark, a good entry point to the beach with a patrolled swimming area. There are toilets and changing sheds here and along the centre of the first stretch of the beach beside the helicopter landing pad, which is used for emergency purposes.
There are two streams disgorging onto North Piha – the Marawhara (northern) and the Wekatahi though often these two join. The lagoons formed by these streams create great swimming places for small children.
The Piha Stream – or Wai o kahu – comes out by Lion Rock, sometimes north of the rock and sometimes south. Its lagoon is also popular for swimming but pollution from failing septic tanks sometimes leads to warning signs not to swim, a problem that is being tackled by the Local Water Agenda Group.
The sand dunes at North Piha have had less of a thrashing than at Piha, and especially at the north, are considered to be some of the best along the coast. At the northern end – off the far end carpark – there is a beautiful easily accessible picnic area and further north in Kohunui Bay is the entrance to the Laird Thomson Track which takes you over to White’s Beach taking in spectacular views along the way. A popular activity for both locals and visitors is to walk the length of the beach which exposes you to salty sea breezes, sometimes ferocious wind, guaranteed to blow away all thought of city stresses.