New Zealand – Episode 1 – Piha and the 90 Mile Beach

Our journey to New Zealand had a rough start involving some over-zealous kiwi’s customs officers who decided we were the perfect candidates for a thorough baggage check. Luckily this turned out to be just a minor niggle and we were finally able to focus on travel and photography.

For us it was a challenge to keep to the well-known routes as we kept on going off track for a few pictures and then back on the main roads struggling the whole time to stay on schedule. We traveled over 4500 km and the most spectacular aspect of our journey was the diversity of roads we spent our time on. We drove from the Auckland motorway to off road tracks following along rivers, from the tight hairpins of the Coromandel Peninsula to the fine sand of the 90 Mile Beach or from the White Silica Beach on the Pacific Ocean to the black sands of Piha at the Tasman Sea. In this post we will reveal just a few of the wonders of the North Island; the rest will come in future posts so be sure to bookmark us and check back in the coming weeks.

A coin flip decided that our first New Zealand post will be about Piha and the 90 Mile Beach (Te Oneroa-a-Tohe to Maori).


Piha is one of the most beautiful beaches that you’ll get to see in your lifetime. The sand is so black that at first you are reluctant to step on it. Don’t forget your slippers as this beautiful sand gets unbearably hot at noon and you can easily burn the soles of your feet. Or if you do forget your slippers like we did, you’ll find out that hot sand can be a good training ground for speed running. To make up for our burnt soles Piha greeted us with a fabulous sunset after a summer shower.

The Tasman Sea at Piha was a wild beast splashing huge turquoise waves. As we got into the water we realized that the waves had a tremendous force and strong currents were constantly digging up the sand beneath our feet. Every second was a struggle to keep our balance. Considering all these aspects, it’s no wonder that Piha is a surfer’s paradise.

90 Mile Beach (Te Oneroa-a-Tohe to Maori)

The beach stretches over long miles of golden sand and is best experienced from a four wheel drive vehicle outfitted to race down the surf’s edge at low tide, spray pouring on the windows. The 90 Mile Beach is actually a recognized highway in New Zealand and you can take your own vehicle down on it if you wish. We did just that and easily reached 100 km/h on the sand. But be careful not to get stuck in the sand or to be caught up by the high tide as there is no cell phone coverage there.

The beach is lined with big, grass-topped dunes which make them the perfect ground for a unusual sport: sand surfing. Adults and kids, men and women alike enjoy a good downhill slide on specially crafted boards.

Dana Stavaru’s photos

Andrei Morar’s photos

Lucian Nistor’s photos

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