A steep cliff on New Zealand's North Island part of the Mercer Bay Loop Walk

Mercer Bay Loop Walk – Auckland’s Best Short Hike

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The Mercer Bay Loop Walk is a stunning track not too far from the center of Auckland. It is a short 2.1 km (0.6 miles) walk but packs a whole lot of scenery into a small area.

The track takes you along the top of enormous cliffs plunging hundreds of meters into the Tasman Sea below. You will pass through the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park which is one of the most beautiful places in the Auckland Region.

It is an awesome activity that you have to do while you are in Auckland. So let’s dive in and find out all about the Mercer Bay Loop Walk! 🤠

Mercer Bay Loop Walk Map

The Mercer Bay Loop is located on the West Coast within the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park. It’s next to Piha, an amazing black sand beach you have to visit. Since it’s so close we combined both attractions in one visit.

Read here: Epic Ridge Walk near Auckland 🤩 

A map showing the location of the Mercer Bay Loop Walk

How to get there

The only way to get out to the Mercer Bay Loop Walk is to drive. The Waitakere Ranges are quite isolated so there is no public transport, unfortunately.

It is a beautiful drive 45 minutes from downtown Auckland and just getting there is an attraction in itself. As soon as you leave West Auckland you will drive through winding mountain roads covered in dense sub-tropical forest.

A cabbage tree growing next to a path near Auckland New Zealand
A toe toe plant a native grass that grows in New Zealand

I spent many years away from New Zealand and, the bush as we call it, is something I always missed about home. The variety of trees and ferns in New Zealand is something you cannot find anywhere else in the world.

If you need to rent a car then you can find cheap deals on Rentalcars.com. Car rentals start from 17 USD per day 👇

Tip: Make sure that your gas tank is full before driving into the Waitakere Ranges. We went to Mercer Bay Loop with my mum and realized in Piha that our tank was almost empty. There are no gas stations for 20 km/12 mi! Luckily the owner of the surf lifesaving club was so kind to give us some petrol 😅

A man and a woman walking along a small bridge at Piha Beach carrying a petrol can on their way to the Mercer Bay Loop Walk
Walking to the car with our emergency petrol

Mercer Bay Loop Starting Point

Time: 45 minutes
Length: 2.1 km (0.6 miles)
Difficulty: Easy

There is a small car park at the entrance to the Mercer Bay Loop Walk. If you go during the week there will be plenty of space. However, it does get busy on the weekend and the car park can get quite full.

Before entering the path you will have to clean your shoes to prevent the spread of Kauri Die Back Disease. This is a fungus that is spread in soil on shoes and kills Kauri trees.

Kauri is the largest tree found in New Zealand and the disease threatens to wipe them out. So make sure to properly clean your shoes and help protect New Zealand’s ecosystem.

Kauri Die Back Disease ironically caused the Mercer Bay Loop to become more popular. This was because many other paths in the Waitakere Ranges were closed to prevent further spread. But hopefully, the measures in place will stop further damage.

Not long after entering, you will arrive at an opening with beautiful views. The vegetation in this area has almost been blown flat because of the constant wind on the west coast.

Only the most hardy plants can survive here. It is an interesting contrast from the lush dense bush that is seen in the rest of the Waitakere Ranges.

Read here: A Night in Paradise at Lane Cove Hut

A woman in a white singlet and denim shorts admiring the view of the coast at the start of the Mercer Bay Loop Walk
A woman in a white singlet and denim shorts walking along a walking track in West Auckland
A man looking out at the view over the ocean from at the top of some cliffs on the Mercer Bay Loop Walk

Maori Pa Site

After walking through tunnels of Manuka and other native trees for 5-10 minutes you will arrive at another stunning lookout.

From here you can see the clifftop that is the destination of the walk. Some signs here state that a Maori tribe used to live on top of the cliffs.

It is a pretty amazing place to live if you ask me! Although you would be dealing with some wild weather on a nearly daily basis. So it would take some strong people to live there.

A woman in the distance walking along a track beside huge sea cliffs on the Mercer Bay Loop Walk

After the lookout over the Maori Pa site the path winds along the top of the cliffs. The views here are amazing and it is quite a surprise to see how huge the cliffs are that you were walking along.

At the final lookout point, there are awesome views along the coast. The ocean on this part of New Zealand’s coast is always rough. It is a good spot to appreciate the power of the waves smashing into the rocks below.

After the lookout point, the path loops inland back to the car park. Here you can either choose the inland path or go back the way you came. Returning along the cliffs is also a good option because you can view the cliffs from a different angle.

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A couple sitting on a rocky outcropping at the top a cliff looking over the tasman sea near Auckland New Zealand
A steep cliff next to an ocean overgrown with grass

What else to do in the Area

Either before or after visiting the Mercer Bay Loop Walk you should also visit Piha. There is an amazing lookout over Piha just a short drive down the road. Piha is the most famous of Auckland’s rugged black sand beaches.

A woman sitting on a wooden bench that has spectacular views of Piha beach in the background

The sand is black because it all comes from volcanic eruptions further down the coast of New Zealand. Piha is a great beach to visit on a hot day. Just be careful swimming here.

The beach is notorious for having very strong rips. Even the best swimmers can be sucked out to see. So only swim where the lifeguards say it is safe.

If you are looking for something to eat the Piha Store has great sandwiches and snacks.

The black sands of Piha Beach with a clear blue sky

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Enjoy the Mercer Bay Loop Walk!

The Mercer Bay Loop Walk is one of the best ways to enjoy the spectacular scenery right on Auckland’s doorstep. Whether you are a local or a visitor to the country this walk offers a unique opportunity to connect with nature.

The Waitekeres are such a ruggedly beautiful place. The breathtaking coastal views and serene environment make it a must-visit destination for anyone looking to experience the natural beauty of New Zealand.


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Hi, I am Allan, a travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. I'm a former lawyer who turned into a full-time nomad in 2020. For the last 4+ years I've been traveling the world. I'm always on a hunt for good food, activities on a budget and workouts on the go. I hope you find my tips helpful and get inspired to travel more!

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