The trail along the cliffside of Mangawhai Heads quickly became one of our favourite hikes to date. It’s a little further away from Auckland than the Waitakares (where we do a lot of hiking), but it was worth the 1.75-hour drive to switch things up.
Mangawhai has a rugged coastline and awesome rock formations along the beach. It’s essentially an out-and-back hike, but you can walk the Mangawhai Cliffs Walkway for epic views on the way out, and then walk the beach below all the way back.
The walk took us about 2.5 hours – but make sure you time it correctly based on the tides. You can only walk the beach track at low tide, so if it the tide is coming in when you first arrive, do the trail in the reverse order, walking the beach out and the clifftop back.
Our favourite part was the end of the clifftop path, before you descend down to the beach. Technically it was closed due to unsafe conditions on the staircase that was being rebuilt, but we saw plenty of other people taking it, and it looked safe enough to us. There were beautiful arches at the base of the trail.
The tricky part was navigating all the stones on the beach walk back. It was tiring on the ankles, and we were thankful for when the beach transitioned to smooth sand at the end.
We made it back to the car just before a massive storm. We jogged a bit at the end to beat a threatening cloud… and sure enough, the sky opened up as soon as we reached the car. So lucky!