Southern Wairarapa cycleways that missed out

23 02 2010

In my recent post on the community proposals for sections of the National Cycleway that missed out I said I was going to give a few details of routes that missed out. And here is the first of those occasional postings.

If anyone has info on some of the other routes that were dudded send the info to me at matthew.thredgold (at) xtra.co.nz and I’ll appreciate it, and maybe have a posting about it sometime.

So this blog post is about the routes that missed out in the southern Wairarapa.

One is C34 Central New Zealand Cycleway (Partnership Wellington Trust)
and the other is C21 Pahaoa – Palliser Cycleway (Trail Wairarapa Trust)

There were further suggestions further north for the Wairarapa (such as the routes from Featherston to Taihape – see Manawatu Trails) and Horowhenua Council’s over the Tararua route C15 The Missing Link Cycleway (Horowhenua District Council), but this is all about the southern Wairarapa, south of Featherston.

The Central New Zealand Cycleway is meant to link Wellington to Martinborough, starting at Queens Wharf in Wellington, going up the west side of the harbour (on one of the most dangerous stretches of highway for cyclists, the SH2 between Ngauranga and Petone, which the Great Harbour Way (the most important missing bit of cycleway in the country) project is meant to address), then up the Hutt River Trail, and over the Rimutaka Rail Trail to Martinborough.

It is exactly the same as a suggestion I have made myself elsewhere on this blog, so it is obvious to more people than just me.  Although I haven’t seen or heard of the exact proposal it makes sense on so many levels. As a commuter cycleway between the Hutt and Wellington, and as a touring route.

Martinborough is a small town a long way off the main highway surrounded by vineyards on the Wairarapa Plain. It is a nice enough spot, and is already on the tourist map, mainly for the winery, cafe and gallery peoples. For instance it has lots of B&Bs and no backpackers. It has a small town Latin America feel because of the central plaza, which we Anglophones hardly ever go in for (which is a shame, as central plazas are a great design pattern for improving livability)

So in my opinion a second feather in Martinborough’s tourism bow after the wineries could be as a centre for cycle touring.  At the moment only one or two of the B&Bs has bikes for use by its guests.

Martinborough’s Main Square:

It’s main street:

And it’s pub:

On the unfortunately named “Central New Zealand Cycleway” route, from Wellington to Martinborough is a decent day in the saddle of about 80km.

From Martinborough there are routes north, on the Western Lake Road and the access roads out to the proposed Pahaoa – Palliser Cycleway. Here’s a map of just that cycleway:

The western end at Pencarrow I rode around back last Christmas Eve and Pencarrow Lighthouse is the far eastern extremity of the proposed Great Harbour Way. So a Wellington to Wellington round trip via the “Central New Zealand Cycleway” and this cycleway would be a mere 270km or so. From Pahaoa to Pencarrow is 143km.

Much of this route is already extant, albeit some bits are extremely rough. It’s just that legal access is in some places by permission, which may not always be forthcoming. The proposal I hoped talked about cleaning up the roughest bits of the road, joining up the missing bits, and getting rid of any private property signs on the road. It’d be a fantastically scenic route, and could gain some international reknown like the Central Otago Rail Trail has. Some enterprising Ngawi residents could develop a business around overnight stays in Ngawi.  Same goes for Eastbourne and Lake Ferry. And the same goes for Martinborough. It make so much sense as a tourist development catalyst, I’m surprised the Tourism Ministry didn’t choose this as one of their projects to fund.

I’ve not ridden all of the route, but here’s a few photos of the terrain.

Looking at the coast road back towards Ngawi from the Cape Palliser Lighthouse:

and looking in the other direction, east:

This is nearby on the proposed cycle way looking east just before Cape Palliser:

Ocean Beach with Mt Matthews in cloud in the southern end of the Rimutaka Range. The cycleway would be on the rough road leading past the baches:

Riding towards Pencarrow Head. The hills in the background are Wellington’s southern suburbs:

The coast road between Pencarrow and Baring Heads on a clear day:

How many places in the world are there a 150km coastal cycleway without car traffic starting on the edge of a city? It would be unique, and it’d be fantastic. I reckon New Zealand is shooting itself in the foot not turning it into a world class asset.

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2 responses

24 02 2010
David

Hey those photos of the coastal road look awesome! I’d sure like to cycle along there some day.

29 01 2011
graeme dickey

Hi – I think it would be a fantastic trail. I am looking to do it some time soon but it looks to me like it would not take too much extra effort to continue it right through to castle point. What an iconic ride that would be!!

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