The Mercer Bay Loop Walk – Unmissable coastal views
The Mercer Bay Loop Walk is one of the most popular in West Auckland. It rewards visitors with incredible coastal views and plenty of native flora and fauna and really is an Auckland must-do.
Situated just before the drive down into Piha, this family-friendly walk heads to the Te Ahua headland. This spot was once the site of a Māori pā (a fortified village) and now provides the most spectacular views up and down the rugged coastline.
The hike itself can be adapted to suit most walkers really packs a punch!
The Ultimate Guide to the Mercer Bay Loop Walk
What Can You Expect to See on This Trail?
Views and Nature for Days…
This walk is absolutely stunning!
You will enjoy uninterrupted views up and down the west coast. It’s impossible not to be impressed by the turquoise waters of the Tasman Sea, especially from the high viewpoints throughout this trail.
In addition, you’ll find a massive variety of flora and fauna.
Kānuka, cabbage trees, tree ferns, pohutukawa and more – the variety of NZ native plant life on the Mercer Bay Walk is fantastic.
If you listen carefully, you’ll also hear several tūī singing from the trees.
When it comes to amazing views combined with impressive flora and fauna, the Mercer Bay Loop Trail really is a winning combo!
Related: 5 of the Best Day Hikes South Island New Zealand.
New Zealand’s Heritage
This track is of historic note for two reasons; firstly, it was home to a Māori pā site and later, it became the site of a local radio station.
As you approach the end of Te Ahuahu Road (where the pathed road changes to gravel), you’ll find the site of a former radio station. This station was an outpost of significance. Should you have the time and inclination, you might like to hop out of the car to read the signs placed there.
At the bottom of the Mercer Bay Loop Trail, you’ll find a beautiful carved pou. This traditionally-carved wooden sculpture marks the location of the old pā.
This site was once a fortified village and is considered a place of significance for local iwi. As a sign of respect for Te Kawerau a Maki (the iwi who looks after this land), it is important that you stay on the track.
The Best Way to Walk the Mercer Bay Loop Walk
The Mercer Bay Loop Walk is exactly that – a loop trail. Because of this, it’s possible to walk from either direction (completing the walk in full). Likewise, it’s possible to follow one path in before doubling back should you prefer.
Loop Around Whilst Enjoying the Best Views
If you’re keen to take in the whole loop (and if it’s your first time on this hike, we suggest you do), you’ll want to walk in a clockwise direction. First, start on the inland track before continuing onto the coastal one.
Enter the trail on the left-hand side (near the public toilet) and follow it down the steep descent. About halfway down, the water comes into view – this will be your first glimpse of the incredible views that make this hike so memorable.
Related: Wonderful Wellington Walks – Hit a Hiking Trail in the Capital.
Once you get to the bottom of the track, follow the signs to the right (if you don’t want to continue on the optional walk to Karekare).
There, you’ll find a number of platforms that allow you to soak up unobstructed views of the Tasman Sea. Whether you’re looking to snap some photos, soak in the scenery or just enjoy the sea breeze, these platforms at the perfect place to stop.
When you’re ready to move on, continue in a clockwise direction, making your way up the coastal track.
This path hugs the side of the cliff and enjoys beautiful sea views right the way along. The path itself has much more sun protection than the inland trail and includes a collection of switchbacks and graded paths at a moderate incline.
Should you walk the full Mercer Bay Loop Walk, you’ll cover off 2.7 km.
Related: 10 of the Best Walks in Nelson.
Enjoy Stunning Views All the Way (at a More Leisurely Pace)
If you’re hitting the Mercer Bay Loop Walk for the views more than for exercise, then you may like to walk both in and out on the coastal trail.
This part of the loop is where you’ll find the most stunning views on the trail and, as you’ll be avoiding the steeper incline (found on the inland track), it’s easier for a range of fitness levels.
To walk this way, simply enter from the far right-hand side of the car park, follow the path down to the bottom viewing platforms and then return up the same track.
Get Your Heart Pumping!
If you’re keen to get your heart rate up then you’ll want to walk both up and down the inland track.
Though you’ll enjoy beautiful views as you get towards the bottom of the track, the return journey (up the same path) isn’t quite as exciting.
It is, however, steep!
Extend Your Tramp
At the bottom of the Mercer Bay Loop, you’ll notice an additional signpost headed for Karekare Beach.
If you’d like to extend your walk further, you can follow Comans Track down to the beach and back up again – it is quite the climb again.
Where is the Mercer Bay Loop Walk?
The Mercer Bay Loop Walk is located in Piha in West Auckland.
You’ll find the car park at the end of Log Race Road.
To get there, drive along Piha Road. Turn left onto Te Ahuahu Road just before you head down into Piha. That road becomes Log Race Road which is where you’ll find the Mercer Bay Loop Walk.
Where Can I Park to Access This Walk?
Halfway down Log Race Road you’ll notice the pathed road stops and gives way to gravel.
Though you’ll notice a sign for ‘Mercer Bay Loop’ and a small turning circle (where you can park), you’ll want to continue driving.
At the end of the gravel road, you’ll find a circular car park.
You’re able to park anywhere there – just remember that you’ll enter the trail on the left if you want to start with the steeper inland track and to the top-right if you’re after the more relaxed coastal one.
Is There a Cost to Hike This Track?
As with practically all New Zealand walks (also known as hikes and tramps), there is no cost to access this trail.
Because of this, it’s a great budget-friendly addition to a day exploring West Auckland!
If you’re looking for additional walks in the area (that are also free of charge), we recommend both the Kitekite Falls and Goldie Bush Walkway.
Unfortunately, the area has been impacted by kauri dieback and for this reason, we recommend you double-check the trails are currently open.