One of the most scenic coastal pathways in the Waitakere Ranges is the Mercer Bay Loop Walk. An incredibly beautiful track overlooking the coastline, the Mercer Bay Loop is a must do in my book when visiting the region.
So if you are looking to plan out a day to the Waitakere Ranges and want to add the trail to your list, then you have come to the right place.
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1) Mercer Bay Loop Walk Overview
The Mercer Bay Loop was one walk in the Waitakere Ranges that was much different from several others in the area.
Instead of walking the forest, heading to a waterfall or roaming the beach, the Mercer Bay Loop takes you up on the cliff side edges as you walk high above the coastline with views for miles and miles. Here are some fast facts about the trail:
Starting & Ending Point: Parking Lot at the End of Log Race Road
Length: 1 Mile / 1.6 KM
Time: 1 Hour
Track Type: Dirt / Grass
Route Type: Loop (obviously!)
Mercer Bay Loop Notes:
→ There are some extensions of the Mercer Bay Loop but the basic route is what I will be highlighting during this guide as that is what I took part of
→ The Waitakere Ranges have been at risk of the kauri dieback disease over the last couple years. Due to this, many trails are closed in the ranges. The Mercer Bay Loop is open as of this writing but just double check on the official website
→ Due to the kauri dieback disease, you must wash your feet off at the cleaning stations at the beginning and end of the trail. Do not enter or exit without taking the proper precaution
2) Getting to the Starting Point
The starting point of the Mercer Bay Loop is located at the end of Log Race Road.
Once you get to the roundabout at the end, just find somewhere to park off on the side. You can go about the trail clockwise or counter clockwise. I opted for the counter clockwise option, which begins at the north end of the roundabout (your right hand side as you are entering the parking area).
It is good to note that the last portion of Log Race Road is not fully paved and can be very narrow. You definitely do not need four wheel drive so don’t worry about that. But do be cautious as you make your way along it with oncoming cars.
There may be times where you will have to pull over a bit on the side of the road in order to fit two vehicles.
» Take a look at the Driving in New Zealand Guide for some helpful tips when hitting the road!
→ Be sure to check out Rentalcars.com when it comes to renting a car in New Zealand. The site will show you car options & prices from a variety of companies. This ensures that you will be able to choose the perfect car (and deal) for your trip to the country.
3) Mercer Bay Loop Map
Below is a screenshot from the app maps.me that shows the circular route, starting and ending by Log Race Road. You can also see a few other trails going off in other directions if you are up for a longer route.
I would highly recommend downloading the app in general as it can be helpful on a a variety of trails all through New Zealand.
Hiking Packing List
In general when it comes to hiking, there are a few main aspects to consider. These includes clothing layers, hiking shoes, hydration & fuel, electronics, and other essentials.
Below in a breakdown of some of the top items, but be sure to check out the Hiking Packing List for a more comprehensive view.
Layering is going to be a top consideration when hiking. You will want to be prepared for all sorts of weather so you can be comfortable in different situations. Some items may include:
→ Hiking Shorts
→ Hiking Pants
→ Short Sleeve Shirt
→ Long Sleeve Shirt / Sun Hoodie
→ Mid Layer Fleece
→ Puff Jacket (not always needed)
→ Packable Rain Jacket (Columbia Watertight II)
Note that your layers should be made of moisture wicking material as they are breathable and quick drying.
Having appropriate footwear will also be very important. You will want to have shoes with the necessary grip and support to keep you safe on the trail.
Whether it is hiking gear, electronics, or just some miscellaneous items, here are some other essentials to bring along on hikes.
→ Hiking Backpack (Osprey Talon 22) & Rain Cover (Joy Walker Cover)
→ Hiking Poles (Black Diamond Trekking Poles)
→ Water Bottle (CamelBak Chute or Katadyn Filter Bottle)
→ Portable Charger (Anker PowerCore 5000mAh)
→ Action Camera (GoPro Hero)
→ Energy Bars & Snacks
→ Hat & Sunglasses
→ Sunscreen & Bug Spray
4) The Mercer Bay Loop
Now that you have some quick background about the trail, lets talk a bit about the trail itself. Overall it is not too difficult of a trail to follow but just be aware of some of those routes that may take you off the main track.
As long as you follow along the route highlighted above along with the pictures below, you should have no problem making your way around the trail.
You can start the walk by heading to the beginning of the roundabout, where you will see a trail followed by the shoe cleaning station.
The beginning of the Mercer Bay Loop will be nice and flat as you walk in the forest a bit with the ocean and coastline out in the distance.
Along the way you will be welcomed to some incredible views all the way down the coastline with the waves crashing down below.
Follow the dirt trail, which will take you to several viewpoints along the way. The sheer size of these cliffs is incredible to take in as you can see the black sand beaches right down alongside them.
After taking in the views, you will need to backtrack for a few minutes, and you can then finish the loop through the greenery.
You can see on the map that there is another longer loop option that will take you back to Log Race Road (not by the roundabout though). Just be aware at this intersection if you want to stay on the shorter route that ends right by the parking lot.
I should also note that during this second half of the loop, there will be some incline to get you back up to the parking lot as the first part of the trail is more downhill. It is nothing too difficult or too long but just be prepared for that.
Once you approach the end of the trail at the parking lot, you will exit through another cleaning station before heading back to your car and off to your next destination in the Waitakere Ranges.
5) Waitakere Ranges Walks
Speaking of other destinations in the Waitakere Ranges, there is plenty more to see all around the area.
During my day in the ranges I was able to make my way to 6 other places/hikes/activities beyond the Mercer Bay Loop. These included:
1. The Arataki Visitor Center
2. Piha Beach & Lion’s Rock
» You can check out some more details in the 7 Best Walks of the Waitakere Ranges Guide I have up on the site to learn more
» If looking for a complete itinerary, check out the New Zealand North Island 10 Day Itinerary I put together. It includes things such as:
6) Where to Stay in Auckland
Since you most likely will be heading to the Waitakere Ranges from Auckland (although you could spend some time in the ranges too), I thought it would be helpful to list out several different accommodation recommendations to choose from when visiting the city.
2. Jucy Snooze
3. Haka Lodge
That about does it for a guide to the Mercer Bay Loop Walk. I hope this has helped you out a bit prepare for the trail and has answered any questions you may have had.
Be sure to check out the other New Zealand itineraries and guides, and feel free to write in any questions below. Have fun out there and safe travels!