On a recent hot day I had a chance to ride from Havelock North to Napier and back along the Tuki Tuki River and the coastal path. It has been developed by the Hawkes Bay Rotarians (click for maps and info) since 2002, and is to be expanded as part of the National Cycleway plans.
Along the Tuki Tuki river the path follows the top of a levee bank. The views are over orchards, pumpkin patches and vines. It’s all a bit horticultural if you like that sort of thing.
The number of gates on the cycleway are a problem. Gates are just about always a barrier to cycling, and how is someone in a hand trike, a velomobile or a recumbent going to get around them. Kissing gates are a right royal pain in the buttocks on a bicycle. The bits between Clive and River Road was chock-a-block full of gates. Some with warning signs about how cows may be frisky (which is a bit of a clue to what they get up to around Napier way when it’s not Art Deco weekend). I got a bit sick of all the gates.
Closer to Napier the kissing gates disappear and ‘motor vehicle restriction points’ are used, and as pointed out by the Bicycle Canberra blog (a barrier to cycling) are not entirely safe for cyclists, but better than an annoying gate.
There are no road crossings the whole way from River Road to Ahuriri which is great, the rivers are crossed on footpaths of the road bridges, and the worst the path gets is running alongside the noisy road, but those bits are short. Most of it is out of the noise cone of the road, which is how it should be. It is all alongside the rivers or the sea (or the fertiliser factory)
The path surface is pretty good quality of very fine packed gravel, and even thin tyres I think could ride on it, and maybe even on a wet day.
Closer to Napier the cycleway turns into concrete, and is quite wide and good quality.
Past the Port the path turns into boardwalk, which can get a bit busy with pedestrians on a sunny day.
And always remember to have a front wheel on your bicycle.
and on the way back to Havelock North after a hot sunny ride looking at Te Mata Peak in the distance, it does occur to me that it might be a great idea to plant a whole lot of trees alongside the paths, to offer the sun-kissed cyclist a little bit of shade, and a break from the wind.
The paths provide mostly an enjoyable day, but probably not a reason to go out of your way to visit Hawkes Bay unless you go up for other reasons like a hike to the gannetry, or a visit to the National Aquarium.