Hawkes Bay Rides

2 10 2013

A few moons ago I did a little ride up Hawkes Bay way from Havelock North to Napier, and in the years since they’ve spent a bit of money and improved cycle infrastructure considerably. Hastings has made a considerable effort in improving on-road cycling around the town.

Here’s a map of most of the rides. Click for a full version:

HawkesBayMap

My lovely wife and I had an opportunity to spend a nice long weekend trying out the various cycleways. The waterfront path makes for some pretty magnificent riding.  It now stretches from Clifton to Bay View. Particularly enjoyable is the section from about the National Aquarium through to Westshore, where the path goes around the quays.

Riding to the Port

Riding to the Port

The seafront path also now continues up to Bay View. The path is a wide smooth concrete where two riders can easily ride two abreast and chat the whole way.

Battling the wind along Westshore

Battling the wind along Westshore

Another day we rode from Napier south along the shore to Awatoto and then headed up the stopbanks of the Tutaekuri and Ngaruroro rivers. Like the ride up the Tuki Tuki river many gates are encountered and the path is shared with cattle. The surface is a fine limestone artfully decorated with some fine manure.

Along the Tutaekuri River

Along the Tutaekuri River

Between the stopbanks the river was a bit flooded.

The Flooded Ngaruroro

The Flooded Ngaruroro

And it was a long way to Fernhill overlooking orchards. There was a bit of spraying and rubbish burning going on, so horticulture doesn’t always make for the best of neighbours, and the river reserves seem to attract the trail bike riders and dickheads burning campfires. Minor inconveniences aside it wasn’t that unpleasant.

Long trek along the stopbanks

Long trek along the stopbanks

When we got out to the wineries, they all seemed to be shut. They apparently start opening more regularly from  Labour Day weekend. The tracks around the wineries parallel the roads and are made from the same limestone gravel.

Other cyclists in the Gimblett Gravels

Other cyclists in the Gimblett Gravels wine district

A more interesting ride than riding out to the wineries is riding what is labelled the Water Ride. There’s two interesting sections. One on the south side of the Ahuriri Estuary and one north around the airport. Both can be started from the Westshore part of the coastal ride. One leaves the old embankment on the north side of the main outfall channel of the Ahuriri Estuary, and one on the south side.

The Water Ride disappearing under the Hawkes Bay Expressway

The Water Ride disappearing under the Hawkes Bay Expressway

For the ride out around the airport take the north side going under the railway and the expressway and then meandering around the lagoon on a limestone path. There are a few gates to open, and the animal of choice around here are sheep which makes for a much more pleasant manure. Saying that we did manage to get gently charged by a young bull who didn’t appreciate our presence.

Crossing the swampy land near the airport

Crossing the swampy land near the airport

There’s not much boardwalk,

A bit of boardwalk

A bit of boardwalk

and eventually the track makes it to the Whakamaharatanga walkway (another remnant of the NZ walkways) and then at Bay View ride back south on the coastal path.

The other part of the Water Ride goes around the southern edge of the lagoon. This little ride would appeal to birdwatchers. There’s a hide at one point, and quite a bit of bird life. It circles around to Prebensen Drive which has quite a nice bike path back towards Napier City, but it cuts out short of the city and throws you onto quite a heavily trafficked road, maybe not the best route for kids.

Closing yet another gate

Closing yet another gate

Collectively the cycle tracks of Hawkes Bay has some boring bits, and too many gates, but the waterfront path and the Water Ride are very pleasant. There’s enough variety to have a different ride everyday for almost a week. Over the last few years the Rotarians (who built a lot of them), the various councils and the National Cycleway funding have done a good job in getting the network built. There has been a focus, not only on recreational rides, but useful commuter paths, and every community should aspire to build a similar cycle path density. It’s worth stopping by for a few days.

The Zen of cycling taking on a profound cygnetficance

The Zen of cycling taking on a profound cygnetficance

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5 responses

2 10 2013
andy

Thanks Matthew – I am looking forward to doing some riding round some of these trails in the future – saw the maps last time we were in Hawkes Bay.
They have had one very bug leg up that we, along with many other communities would have loved to have, and that is being selected as one of the two national cycle communities. It would be really good to see more money allocated for cycling in the National Government Policy Statement to help more communities do more for cycling faster.

Keep up the great blogs.

Warmest regards

Andy Foster
Welllington City Councillor

3 10 2013
NigelTwo

Andy,
Do this sooner rather than later! Plan a couple of “loops” that incorporate waterfront, estuary, old port area, orchards, riverbanks. Be careful though as some of these routes are deceptively long.

After you have exhausted yourself with a days cycling, ask yourself: “what is it that made that so good?”
Some thoughts I had were:
– it’s safe,
– flat, oh did I mention it was flat,
– wonderful panoramas showcasing all the surrounding areas,
– no wind (a Wellingtonian speaking here),
– it is all joined up,
– anyone can do it.

Certainly this is tourist stuff, but it is good stuff.

Thanks Matthew for your articles on this. Your first post raised my awareness of these trails. I have now pedalled “just a few”. Every gate is a photograph opportunity.

4 10 2013
Matthew

Nigel, You must have a lot of photos of gates.

3 10 2013
Cam

Great review. I live in Napier and frequent the paths, they are indeed a great experience perhaps more for tourists, however as you pointed out the gates are excessive. For me they detract from the experience. Not great for families with bike trailers, tag-a-longs etc, although the Awatoto to Bay View run gives a fair stretch of gate free family enjoyment. Other parts have so many gates you wonder why they ever planned a route there especially the bit by the airport. On a general note while we are promoting ourselves as a cycling destination, there is plenty of room for Napier folk to embrace utility cycling more in what is basically a flat terrain city and surrounds with mostly good weather.

3 10 2013
Matthew

Thanks Cam.

With the kissing gates some I found I could get the bike around just by bending the front wheel, but some were so tight I had to lift the front wheel. As you say not good for trailers or if you’ve got a kid in a kid seat.

And whilst I think some of the Hastings bike lanes are quite good I think in Napier the bike lanes are a bit absent. I used the one on Kennedy Road, but there seemed to be a few missing such as on Prebensen Drive east of the expressway and Carlyle Street. I’m sure the locals know where the NCC should splash a bit of cash/greenpaint to make it better.

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