Te Henga (Bethells Beach), Karekare, and Mercer Bay

January 6, 2022
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JUST AFTER New Year's Day, 2022, I went out to Te Henga (Bethells Beach) to look at the sunset, and then the next night to Karekare Beach, a bit further south, to do the same.

Te Henga, which a lot of people still call Bethells though the Māori name was officially given prominence as far back as 1976, is one of the three most popular beaches on Auckland's wild western shore, along with Muriwai and Piha.

The sand along these beaches is black and volcanic, from Mount Taranaki.

I have some amazing sunset photos by Nicki Botica-Williams, which I published in my 2017 book A Maverick New Zealand Way. Unfortunately, neither black and white print nor epubs do them justice, though I did create a PDF of the images in the book that people can browse online for free. Anyhow, here are four of those photos in full high resolution, here.

That's why I wanted to go out there and see the sunset again! The rest of the photos in this blog post are mine, apart from some ones of Mercer Bay which I got from the meetup group Feet First.

That's me at Te Henga, in 2022!

My own 2022 photo of the amazing Te Henga (Bethells) Sunset!

Here's a video I made of Te Henga (Bethells), in which I explore the cave on the beach, as well:

The next night, I was at Karekare Beach some way to the south. Here's a composite photo showing the Karekare Stream flowing past the Karekare Surf Club, which is on the flanks of a high dome called The Watchman. Karekare Beach is actually an old volcanic crater filled with sand, and the Watchman is a lava plug from the centre of the crater.

The Karekare Stream has a lovely waterfall a bit further up. Here is a photo from the meetup group, Feet First:

Karekare Falls, from Feet First (photo by Majid)

Karekare Beach begins north of Karekare Point, which the sands extend past. Here's another Feet First photo:

Karekare Point with Paratahi Island, from the Watchman, looking southward. Feet First (photo by Majid)

There is a pou, a  Māori statue of ancestral significance, at Karekare.

The Karekare Pou

And here are my sunset photos from Karekare:

Between Karekare and Te Henga, the epic Hillary Trail that I have written about in my last two posts, the trail also known as Te Ara Tūhura, the path of discovery, is now largely reopened.

According to the Auckland Council Website, as of the time of writing, the following sections between Karekare and Te Henga are open

Unfortunately they don't make it clear what Section 7 is. In any case, it's good to see that Mercer Bay is accessible, as this is a bit of a hidden gem that a lot of people never really explore. Again, Feet First have some good photos of Mercer Bay, of which the Māori name is Te Unuhanga-a-Rangitoto, meaning the unleashing of something volcanic.

Te Unuhanga-a-Rangitoto/Mercer Bay, Feet First (photo by Theo T.)

There is a perilous but very scenic loop track around the top of Mercer Bay, and an even more perilous descent path with ropes provided. Hopefully they are checked against perishing from time to time.

Another view of Te Unuhanga-a-Rangitoto/Mercer Bay, Feet First (photo by Theo T.)

Here is a zoom-in from the photo above, showing one of the easier parts of the Mercer Bay Loop Track, and some hikers.

Detail from Te Ununhanga-a-Rangitoto/Mercer Bay photo by Theo T.

I can't wait to do the Mercer Bay Loop Track again!

Special thanks goes to Nicki Botica Williams, who took the collaged photos captioned as Bethells Beach.

Did you like this post? If so, check out my new book The Neglected North Island: New Zealand's other half, available on this website.


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