Lion Rock

Lion Rock

Lion Rock is a prominent island on Piha Beach in the Waitakere Ranges. The rock is an iconic landmark that goes hand in hand with Piha Beach. The walk takes approximately 5 – 10 minutes to reach the highest point along the trail and a similar time to make you’re way down. The trail is a little dusty but if you’re just in bare feet or even jandals, the climb is doable. Unfortunately due to the island eroding you can’t reach the summit due to the ground beneath the track being unstable. You can climb up along the track and get a good views out over Piha along the track. If you’re after a short workout while you’re at Piha which includes a view of the surrounding the short climb up Lion Rock is well worth your time. Bring a towel, togs and cool off with a swim in the summer.


15 mins


200 m


70 m



Lion Rock seen from a distance from the southern end of Piha Beach

36°57′06″S 174°28′04″E

In Detail

There is culturally significant history behind Lion Rock. It was a landmark of great importance to the Te Kawerau a Maki people and their ancestors. The lower foreshores of Piha were used as their peoples living areas where they would have their whare and marae whilst Lion Rock (traditionally known as Te Piha) was a defensive pa that was used to defend against attacking enemies coming from the sea. These days you are able to retrace well carved steps into Lion Rock and get an idea of the views of the area in which wars would have been fought out between the Te Kawerau a Maki people and their enemies. Keep an eye out for the information boards positioned along the track that share further historical insight on Lion Rock. They’re usually in spots with a good view or resting point.

Looking out over the beach and the sea as a few brief rolling waves pull through onto Piha Beach

Getting to Lion Rock

There are a number of different routes that take you to Piha Beach depending on which direction you are coming from to reach the Waitakere Ranges. All of them will however end with you taking Piha Road to reach Piha Beach and Lion Rock. There are no other roads that will allow you to reach the beach. If you are coming from Northern Auckland you will likely take Route 13 (Forest Hill Road), central Auckland you will take West Coast Road and Route 24 (Scenic Drive) if you are coming from South Auckland. The time it takes you to reach Piha Beach will vary depending on the traffic.

Piha & Lion Rock Weather

When the suns out and the weathers warm, you’ll find a healthy portion of Auckland’s population out on the West Coast. Whether it be Piha Beach, Bethells Beach, Karekare or Muriwai it can be hard to find space to park a car. Although Lion Rock doesn’t have to be the walked in the summer, the winter/autumn and spring months provide for a good chance to explore the area without the same number of crowds filling the beach. If you leave the trip to Piha until later in the day, the west coast beaches are one of the best spots to catch sunset in Auckland.

Lion Rock

The walk up Lion Rock begins with a number of rock carved steps with a hand railing to guide your way up the rock face. The rock soon gives way to dirt and wooden steps. As you climb higher regenerating native bush covers parts of Lion Rock. The trail winds it’s way around the hill steps transition into flatter dirt section of trail with the views only getting better the further you climb. Along the climb there are information boards which share some of the historical significance and information about this island.

Top Left: Adil in the flip flops making his way along the track up Lion Rock
Top Right:
The path winding about the hillside, Adil seen making his way between the flax bushes along the track
Plenty of steps to be taken towards the top viewing point

Along the way there are a number of viewing points where you can stop to peer out between the native bush for a birds-eye view of the surroundings. Unfortunately due to the instability of the island from the track ending the summit cannot be reached. The walk beyond the trails end has been deemed unsafe by local council and the old tracks have been barricaded. For the safety of yourself and others please respect the barriers that have been constructed.

Top Left: The small township of Piha nestled into the hillside looking out over the beach
Top Right:
Looking out over the main Piha Beach on a hot summers day
Looking up towards the summit of Lion Rock and the viewing points along the hillside

Piha Beach

Piha Beach is a great place to relax on a warm summers day. Whether you’d rather be sunbathing in the sand or out back catching a few waves. Piha Beach can be quite a dangerous beach to swim at due to undercurrents. If you are planning on heading out for a swim at the beach, stay between the flags and obey the surf life savers instructions for both your safety and safety of others.You may recognise the beach from the New Zealand television show Piha Rescue which followed the Piha Surf Life Saving Club and their efforts to keep everybody safe in the water at all times.

Top: Looking back towards Lion Rock after exploring
Hiding away in a rocky cavern nestled within Lion Rock overlooking North Piha Beach
Looking out over North Piha Beach