We decided to spend a day or two at Piha – the camp is very comfortable, there are a few stores/cafés nearby for a hot lunch, and the beach with the rocky headlands at each end (plus the Lion’s Head rock in the middle) is dramatic and wild and beautiful. And so is the water – long crashing waves, aqua water, just mesmerizing!
So we hung out in Piha. I walked to the far north end where there are some caves, hoping to see some baby penguins and maybe a mama penguin or two. Apparently there are three colonies of the small blue penguins here, one at each headland and one at Lion’s Head rock. The penguins hang out around the rocks at night, though they burrow in the dunes to lay the eggs and raise their young.
I walked, and walked, and walk – reached a couple of huge caves – but alas, no penguins, no babies, nothing. So I walked back to our caravan.
I did see a few more blue bottle jellyfish – you can see the long tentacles on one of these, and how large the blue bottle can get on the other photo.
I was also amazed by all the flowers that have adapted to growing in the sand – all kinds of daisy looking flowers, but in oranges, yellows, lavenders, and almost browns in with the orange – absolutely gorgeous! I had a great time photographing the flowers, plus Lion’s Head rock from different views. (It really does resemble the outline of a sleeping lion, although he has one finger sticking up from his front paw. I’ll leave it to your imagination which finger it might be.)
Piha is an interesting little town – it’s divided into Piha and North Piha, though North Piha doesn’t seem to have anything other than bachs (also spelled baches – pronounced either like the composer, or like batches) – the Kiwi word for summer homes, usually near a beach. These range from trailers permanently placed in trailer parks to small prefab units to huge luxury villas. Some people live here year round, but many of the houses around here seem to have the curtains drawn and no one home.
Piha proper has the two cafés we’ve found, a post office to one side of our holiday park and the library to the other side. We found an ice cream stand. And that’s about it. Oh, plus a rugby field, because what’s a Kiwi town without a rugby field? Also a bowling club, but this isn’t bowling as in the US – this is field bowling, sort of like the Italian bocce ball. Haven’t found the school.
And car parks – lots and lots of car parks along the beach, north and south. With, of course, designer rest rooms. This is a surfing spot, and being only an hour or so west of Auckland, it seems to draw surfers on weekends and holidays. Plus we’ve been told most of New Zealand is on holiday from mid-December to mid-January – the government shuts down, schools are closed for summer holiday, and everyone either goes camping or to their bachs. (I think hotel, restaurant, and store workers might not have those three or four weeks off – but apparently everyone else is on holiday.)
So we’ve decided to spend another day in Piha, relaxing and enjoying this incredibly lovely place. And I hope that finally, maybe, possibly, if I’m lucky, I can see a penguin in the wild!!!!