Auckland is full of iconic landmarks - those places, objects or art that just reminds you of the city or for residents, of home. Localist checks out some of our most famous landmarks, and unearths the history and interesting gems about them!
Lion Rock is a natural formation dividing North and South Piha beaches and is actually an eroded 16-million-year-old volcanic neck. Named for its similarity to a lying male lion when viewed from the rear (shore side), Lion Rock is immediately visible as you descend along Piha Road, the only access to the beach. The local landmark has not only become iconic of Piha, but of Auckland's West Coast in general and has even featured on stamps.
Lion Rock was once an important defensive pa for Maori and middens and terrace can be found on the buttocks and right shoulder. On the very top are terraces and pits. This was the last bastion of this citadel.
Orange scarp on the south-facing slope vividly shows the continual erosion of Lion Rock. On the southern side at the front, there is a sharp, pinncale-shaped rock that was historically known as Victoria Rock as it looks like Queen Victoria in profile.
At the base of the rock there are a number of plaques. The large white marble one is a Roll of Honour to men who went from the Piha State Sawmill to WW1. There is also a small WW2 plaque and a plaque that commemorates the handing over of Lion Rock to the Auckland Centennial Memorial Park Board in 1965. The rock was purchased from Te Kawerau in 1941 by descendants of Sir Algernon Thomas specifically to be gifted to be part of the great conservation park that Sir Algernon had sought from the 1890s.
What to do: Why not make a day trip of it? You’ll pass the Arataki Park Visitor Centre on the way to Piha Beach - its well worth calling in as it has great views of the Waitakere Ranges, wonderful books and information. If you want to stay the night, check-in to Piha Cottage and if you need surf gear, check out Piha Surf Shop.
How to get there: At the far end of Titirangi village is a round-about. Take the second left turn, Scenic Drive, and continue onto West Coast Rd. As you pass the Elevation Licensed Cafe & Restaurant (formerly the Nikau Club) on the right, turn left onto Piha Rd and in 15 minutes you’ll be in stunning Piha Beach.
What to expect: Piha is one of New Zealand’s most famous surf beaches and has a reputation for awesome surf. It can be moody, misty, mysterious, wild, wet and wind-swept. When swimming at Piha, please follow the instructions of the lifeguards at Piha Surf Life Saving Club on patrol and remember to always swim between the flags.