Mercer Bay Loop

In which a consultation with staff at the Arataki Visitor Centre pays off in a walk of the Mercer Bay Loop.

You can view the full gallery of 16 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.

The “Walk of the Week” was still the Waitakere Dam Walk, for something like the fourth week in a row – but staff at the Arataki Visitor Centre were ready with their best suggestion yet.

The Mercer Bay Loop Walk only takes about an hour, but there are one or more ways to extend it.  I’ve been on many walks that are part of the Hillary Trail, a four day hike through native forest along the coast of the Waitakere Ranges Regional Park, and the Mercer Bay Loop Walk is another.  I went off of the loop to follow the Hillary Trail for a short distance, but it quickly got much more muddy and unstable then the relatively dry and well-drained Mercer Bay Loop.

There are some interesting old radar station structures at the carpark, from the second world war if I recall correctly.  From there the trail descends through some nice bush.

Mercer Bay Loop Walk
Mercer Bay Loop Walk

This walk is all about coastal views, all from the tops of the cliffs.  The first views look north over Piha Beach.

Piha Beach
Piha Beach

Very quickly though the views are looking to the south, and Whatipu Beach is visible in the distance.

Coastal cliffs, Whatipu Beach in the distance
Coastal cliffs, Whatipu Beach in the distance

Interestingly enough, although Karekare Beach is somewhere between these lookouts and Whatipu, but I wasn’t sure that I could see it.  This great vantage point didn’t offer me any helpful insights into walking from Karekare to Whatipu.  Mercer Bay Loop Walk is actually located in Karekare regional park.

A closer look at Whatipu Beach
A closer look at Whatipu Beach

There are many more coastal views in the gallery below.  I enjoyed a lunch at one of the lookouts with nice benches.

Another coastal view
Another coastal view

For the return to the carpark, the trail goes up and away from the coast.

Mercer Bay Loop Walk
Mercer Bay Loop Walk
Pou
Pou

From the plaque near the pou above:

This carved pou symbolises the manawhenua, or spiritual guardianship of Te Kawerau a Maki, the local Tangata Whenua. It also recognises that this is a special place, one of the oldest settled parts of the Waitakere Ranges.

This Pou specifically relates to an early Tupuna, Hinerangi, a chiefly young Ngaoho woman named in honour of a renowned Turehu ancestress.

Because of her beauty, skill and descent, many young rangatira sought her as a partner. Eventually Hinerangi chose a young chieftain from Karekare and settled there in his village and lived happily until an aitua or tragic accident.

At the southern end of Te Unuhanga o Rangitoto or Mercer Bay was a famed fishing spot known as Te Kawa Rimurapa (reef of the bull kelp). One day Hinerangi’s husband and two others went fishing there and were overwhelmed by a large wave and tragically drowned.

Distraught, Hinerangi climbed to this headland and scanned the seas of Waikarekare, longing for her husbands return. Inconsolable Hinerangi sat on this headland for days until she too died of a broken heart and set off along Te Rerenga Wairua (journey of the spirits) to join her beloved.

Her disconsolate face was forever etched into the rock face of the headland on which she sat. It became known as Te Ahua o Hinerangi (the likeness of Hinerangi) and can still be seen today from the cliffs high above the southern end of Te Unuhanga o Rangitoto (Mercer Bay).

Following the Hillary Trail a short distance gave me views of a small beach not visible from the Mercer Bay Loop.

Small beach visible from the Hillary Trail
Small beach visible from the Hillary Trail

You can view the full gallery of 16 pictures below.  To view on imgur, click here.