Coastal meander for all tides

By Alexia Santamaria

Bays walk offers a challenge as well as fabulous views

Youngsters take the wet way home along the walkway between Murrays Bay and Mairangi Bay. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Youngsters take the wet way home along the walkway between Murrays Bay and Mairangi Bay. Photo / Paul Estcourt

The walk from Browns Bay to Mairangi Bay and back (with a quick stop for coffee in the middle) is lovely for anyone who doesn't mind a little bit of uphill work.

I've done this walk a few times and the experience varies depending on the tide. I once did it with a girlfriend just as it was coming in, and that caused hilarity and squealing as water came across the path and soaked our shoes. Amazing how otherwise sensible women morph so quickly into screaming teenagers at the sight of approaching water.

This outing was more sedate with my mother-in-law. We started on the beach at beautiful Mairangi Bay, a popular spot on this lovely summer's afternoon. We walked along the beach and up on to the rock walkway (it actually is the prettiest sewer covering in Auckland but you would swear it was rock with a beautiful flat path on top).

This part of the path ends at Murrays Bay. We continued along the beach, passing an under-road tunnel on our left, noting the long wharf, off which people were fishing.

At the end of the beach we ascended the path to the top of the cliff and followed it all the way to Churchill Park Reserve. With houses to nosy at on the left and trees and sweeping sea views on the right, it's a stunning stroll.

At Churchill Park Reserve we headed down to the beach and continued around the shoreline. This whole walk can be done along the cliffs if the tide is in, but if it's out there are lots of options. Head to the water's edge and meander along. We walked from the reserve to Browns Bay, passing families flying kites and poking around in rock pools.

The plan was to go to Ben Gusto for coffee but because of the weather this beachside haven was pumping. We decided this was an excuse to indulge in pastries from La Tropezienne, the French bakery in Clyde Court (off the main street). It, too, was busy but we squeezed in for a brew and a freshly baked pain au chocolat. Delicieux.

After that indulgence, we ramped it up a bit and ambled home along the cliffs. We cut across Clyde Rd and walked back down Beachfront Lane, through the carpark, over the bridge towards a flight of steps. Our sugar hit gave us the energy to conquer all 75 of them and continue up the path until we got to Beechwood Rd.

We turned left at the top and turned past Dan Jones Bluff to get back to the clifftop walkway.

The path crosses a bridge and ends at a carpark at the end of Rothesay Bay Rd. We continued along this road to Churchill Rd, and just at the bend is a little sign that says Gumdigger's Trail. We followed the track through a small stand of bush and on to the clifftop walkway again. Cue more sweeping views of the water, which we enjoy all the way back to Churchill Rd Reserve. We crossed through (noting how nice it would be for a picnic) and were soon back on the path, all the way back to Murrays Bay and on to Mairangi Bay beach.

This is one of those walks that can be different every time you do it. It never fails to take your breath away as you hit the top of the cliffs and look out across the sparkling Hauraki Gulf, with Rangitoto Island in the background. It's truly gorgeous and Browns Bay is perfect for a stop. If you wanted to do the walk non-stop there you could finish up at the popular Paper Moon Cafe in Mairangi Bay. Either way, it's a glorious walk for a sunny afternoon.


Extra info

Mairangi Bay to Clyde Rd in Browns Bay and back, along the cliffs and shoreline

• Roughly 9km round trip

• 1.5-2 hour round trip, depending on your pace (35-45 minutes from Mairangi to Browns and 45-55 minutes back if you follow our route).

- Herald on Sunday

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