Piha Beach, a surf beach about 45 minutes’ drive west of Auckland city, has been named among the world’s 50 best beaches.

It is famous for its black sand, rugged waves and the headland named Lion Rock that juts out of the sand, marking the sandy stretch. Piha forms part of the base of the Waitakere Ranges, more than 16,000 hectares of land including native forest, hiking trails, rivers, waterfalls and coastline.

The inclusion comes after damage from Cyclone Gabrielle devastated West Auckland’s communities earlier this year; many of the beaches, including Piha, were closed to visitors for two and a half months between February and early May. They’re back open for now – but part of the beauty of these areas is in their ruggedness, which is easily disturbed by bad weather.

The World’s 50 Best Beaches list, produced by suncream brand Banana Boat, is voted on by more 750 people, including editors from publications like Forbes and Departures, travel agents, bloggers and many, many influencers.

Lucky Bay, a five-kilometre stretch of white sand near Esperance in Australia, beat out Greek beaches, Mexican playas and Hawaiian coves to take the number one spot. Piha came in at number 49, behind Pink Sand Beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas.

Scores are based on categories such as “untouched nature”, “swimmable”, “annual sunny days” and “average temperatures”.

It’s not recommended you swim at Piha thanks to its powerful, crashing currents, but it is beloved by everyone from surfers to artists thanks to its powerful, palpable energy – and is a national Aotearoa treasure.

Additional reporting by Lucy Bell Bird, Max Veenhuyzen and Ricky French.

worlds50beaches.com/