Piha is considered New Zealand's most famous surf beach and is about 40 kilometres west of Auckland City. First surfed in the 1950's by Californians, the beach quickly gained a reputation for its difficult and ever-changing breaks. Previously, the area was occupied by Te Kawarau a Maki, the Maori tribe of the west coast and the remains of their settlements and pas can still be seen on the headlands and in the cliffs around Piha. In the 1850's the area was purchased from the Maori and the European settlers moved in. Soon after, and continuing for almost 90 years, the area was logged for its Kauri timber. Using bullock teams, huge logs would be pulled from the bush and then taken to Karekare and then by purpose built railway to Whatipu wharf. Many remnants of this industry can still be seen today. In the late 1800's Piha reputation as a popular holiday destination was building, encouraging many families to make the long and arduous trip from Auckland to the seaside. Today there are many holiday baches located in the hills and the 40 minute drive from the city brings many visitors during the summer months.
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