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Perhaps the most intimate and immediately appealing of the West Coast settlements is KAREKARE, 17km west of the Arataki Visitor Centre and accessed along Piha Road, with manuka, pohutukawa and cabbage trees running down to a broad beach and only a smattering of houses. In one hectic year, this dramatic spot was jolted out of its relative obscurity, providing the setting for beach scenes in Jane Campion’s 1993 film The Piano and the inspiration for Crowded House’s Together Alone album. The Karekare Surf Club patrols a relatively safe swimming area on summer weekends, or there is a pool below Karekare Falls, a five-minute walk on a track just inland from the road. There is nowhere to stay here, and no facilities.

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