We love exploring around our home region of Auckland, New Zealand. One of our favourite places for weekend escapades is the Waitakere Ranges to the west of the city. The ‘Waitaks’, as Aucklanders call the Ranges, are home to numerous bush walks and because the ranges steeply rise from the coast, many wild black sand surf beaches are clad in bush too.
One walking track that combines bush and coast is the Mercer Bay Loop Track. This track is near Piha Beach, the most well-known and busiest of the west coast surf beaches. Piha has big surf (and dangerous rips, so beware when swimming) and a great café.
Mercer Bay Loop Track is accessed from Log Race Road, off Te Ahu Ahu Road, off West Coast Road (the main road into Piha from Auckland).
The track is just a short one – the signs say it takes an hour but we think it’s more like 35 minutes. Although if you’re slow going uphill you might take a bit longer – the final uphill slog is pretty steep!
Starting off through bush, the track heads away from the car park and towards the edge of the high cliffs that plummet down to the ocean below, with glimpses north to Piha Beach. This coast is pretty windswept – come here when a westerly wind is blowing and you’ll know all about it!
When you pop out of the bush, the views down to the sea are second-to-none. The surf rolling in is mesmerising to watch, and you can see north all the way to Muriwai Beach and south to the Manukau Harbour heads.
There are numerous lookout points along the section of the trail that goes along the clifftop. It’s impressive, but please don’t climb over the barriers onto the cliff edge to take a selfie! Seriously, we saw someone doing that and she was about 1 metre from the edge that’s 40m or so above the water! Stupid!
The rest of the loop track heads back inland and up the hill to the car park. Before you head uphill though, make sure to go along the track a wee bit more and check out the views down to Mercer Bay. It’s a nice-looking beach!
The uphill slog back to the carpark is hot and sweaty. You could also turn around and go back the way you came if you’d prefer.
The Mercer Bay Loop Track is a fantastic little walk that combines bush and spectacular coastal views. It’s easy to get to and is only a short walk, making it perfect for almost anyone. We highly recommend checking it out, and it’s perfect for visitors to Auckland who want to see a bit of the ‘wild west’ of the region but don’t have the time to do a longer walk!
And, best part, you can finish off your adventure with a delicious ice-cream at the Piha café.
Have you done any other walks in the Waitakere Ranges that you think we should do? Let us know in the comments!
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