A disease that kills more people than car crashes every year in New Zealand is expected to fill Mount Maunganui's Main Beach with people wearing shady hats this afternoon.

Organised by Tauranga Melanoma Friends Group, the walk around the Mount is being called a mission to raise awareness of one of the Bay of Plenty's greatest killers.

Organiser Ellen Orr says people don't realise how serious a form of cancer it is, and one that can also be hereditary.

Her support group lost a member last year because of that.


"Sharon, she was 33 with two young children. Her father had passed away at the same age, of melanomas."

The walkers meet outside the Mount Maunganui Surf Club at 3pm.