Te Araroa Trail to finally be opened

30 11 2011

At Shorland Park in Island Bay this Saturday at 10am the Governor-General, Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae will declare open Te Araroa, the Long Pathway. All are welcome. It’s quite an achievement, a 3000km walking trail linking Cape Reinga to Bluff, built with the goodwill of many people and not a lot of money and I’d like to say a very personal thankyou to everyone who has worked on it, donated money to the trusts, allowed the route to cross their land, to DOC and all the councils on the route, to the community groups, to Geoff Chapple for the original idea and subsequent enthusiasm, and everyone who walks and loves any part of it.

New Zealand now has a world class long distance walking trail. As far as I know the Rimutaka Incline Railway Group hasn’t yet applied to put a steam train over the route. There are bits that are still along roads (but it’s up to 90% not along roads), and there are still a few bits where yet to be convinced landowners need to get into the groove (like going up onto the crest between the Ohariu Valley and Tawa).

Personally when I became a bit of the backwash and moved to Wellington from Australia in 2008 I wanted to get a feel for the topography of the place so I started walking from Seatoun on the Eastern Walkway to Lyall Bay and then I walked around Evans Bay to Oriental Bay and then I walked to Island Bay on the Southern Walkway, then I walked the Te Araroa Trail all the way to Otaki Forks. It took about 8 days, not all at once, because Wellington doesn’t get 8 nice days in a row.

Here’s a few piccies of the route north out of Island Bay following the trail:

Shorland Park, Island Bay


Central Park, Brooklyn

Near the top of the cable car

Sign in the Botanic Gardens

in the Botanic Gardens

from Tinakori Hill

Old Coach Road, Johnsonville

In the pines above Tawa

Porirua from the slopes of Colonial Knob

Mana Island from Colonial Knob

Between Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay


Queen Elizabeth Park

Mangaone Walkway between Waikanae and Otaki


Otaki Forks

From Otaki Forks the trail goes up over the high peaks of the Tararuas and it becomes a bit more daunting. There I stopped and I still haven’t gone any further. Maybe someday.


Still under mediocrity rule

26 11 2011

50% of people are below average by definition, and tonight nearly all of them voted National. Auckland will have to wait 3 more years to progress their rail plans, but then after 3 years there won’t be any money for any rail projects since National are going to send us into huge debt for its stupid motorway plans. An unbridled National is going to be a rude shock, and I predict a lot of the mediocre, low-information voters are going to regret voting the way they did today.

Interesting the polls in the Herald and the Fairfax press were all found to be so wrong. National got 48.0% of the party vote. What happened to the 53% and 54% those mainstream media polls were predicting? Hey that’s outside their published error rates. I think they’ve been shown to be biased propaganda rather than objective polls. I hope someone does a full analysis. I hope the newspapers publish apologies to all their readers.

It’s great to see the back of most of the ACT Party. And it is great to see the Greens get more members into parliament. Congrats Julie Anne.

Thankyou MMP for saving the country from a wipeout. 52% didn’t vote National. Thankyou each and everyone of you in that 52%. Unfortunately we’re still under mediocrity rule.  3 years is a long time to wait for positive change. It looks like MMP is going to stay, so this born to rule mob can’t take democracy away from us. (Although they would if given a chance – they want to win 75% of the seats with that 48% vote. It was bloody rude of them to force the referendum onto us.)

I predict a 3 year delay in the Ngauranga-Petone cycleway. I predict we’ll be a fatter and sadder lot as we build more motorways and tie our future even further to mandatory motoring. We’re going to be stuck more in traffic.

There is no hope for improved air quality, as I bet Nick Smith is going to put further delays on implementing clean air laws, whilst still 1100 people are going to die due to wood smoke every year. Kiwi kids are still going to have asthma rates 6 times the world average. That’s woodsmoke for you, picking its victims indiscriminately.

The Basin Reserve is fucked.

Pautahanui Inlet is going to be silted up quicker.Battle Hill Park is stuffed.

Our conservation lands are going to be more overrun with deer and possums as DOC gets further squeezed.

More of us are going to be out of work. More of us are going to be living in poverty. More of us are going to be living in Australia. The minimum wage there is NZ$18.76.

I scrutineered the count in a rural Horowhenua booth tonight. I still wonder why most of my neighbours voted National. Why? I can’t think of any reason why anybody would? I can believe they did what the newspapers told them to with their bullshit polls, or the 4 times as many as everyone else blue billboards told them to. I don’t believe they thought about it very much. You get what you vote for (at least under MMP) and too many were mediocre and voted for the mediocre lot.

For a richer New Zealand

25 11 2011

Spotted in Levin tonight. For a richer New Zealand.

Back with bicycle related posts after tomorrow’s kerfuffle.

The obligatory election commentary

24 11 2011

On Saturday this site has to go off-line for the day so to stay within the electoral laws (I don’t understand why, and it seems pretty dumb to me) and I hope you all turn the voting experience into a positive activity, by walking or cycling to your nearest booth and casting your ballots.

If you are still undecided then to help here are some posts across my blogs to help you decide. (National betray us again. Piss Weak Nick Smith should ResignAnother Backwards Step. 7 bicycles per year. If Political Parties came on Freeview. Steven Joyce should Resign. National’s White Elephant. Protecting Ourselves from a Crazy Man. Combating Arrogance this November. National’s road building is an expensive white elephant.) Yeah there might be a theme there. Don’t vote for the mediocre or shithouse ones. Vote for the champions.

Trawling through all my old posts the above linked ones are probably my least favourites, and my favourite ones are about the rides I’ve done. But how could I forget this old link from 2 years ago – Boyzvoice’s Cousin from a Norwegian movie, and this version is taped off SBS 1. (Currently in NZ (but for how much longer?) you can pick up the Tasmanian SBS signals on Vertical Polarity on the Optus D1 satellite with a 90cm dish. And the 2 channels are heaps better than anything on NZ TV – Same satellite as Freeview and Sky, different polarity – get a dual LNB)

The girl on the bike is your reward for reading this far.

Fingers crossed for Saturday.

Palmie Chic

24 11 2011

You may or may not be aware of the cycle chic movement – and here are some examples – such as Copenhagen Cycle Chic, or closer to home Auckland Cycle Chic.

Recently whilst dining with my lovely girlfriend in Palmerston North we watched a particularly impractical pair of high heels walk past the restaurant window with a lady precariously perched upon them, causing my better half to comment something Sex in the City like about “What are they wearing in New York?” and I answered that I don’t think it works that way. Rather I believe people in New York always are asking “What are they wearing in Palmerston North?”

So to answer that question here is a picture that gladdens my heart, taken today, with the zero-emission postal delivery service of Palmerston North and a fashionista in his gummies.

Long live Palmie chic.

Mandatory helmets, cycling policies and who to vote for.

19 11 2011

The good people at Helmet Freedom have taken perhaps the inevitable step of subtitling the Fall of Berlin movie, noting the failure of the Melbourne and Brisbane helmet schemes especially in regards to mandatory bike helmets.

So where do the parties stand on cycling in their policy statements:

Labour hardly seem to mention it other than the bland statement “Promoting walking and cycling as credible active transport options”

National’s transport policy doesn’t mention cycling, just motorways, and more motorways.

ACT don’t mention cycling. Instead they talk of their “commitment to mobility”. So as far as cycling goes, along with their philosophy of encouraging the selfish and the juvenile, I read that as code that they don’t want you to drive anything smaller than a fat-arse SUV.

The NZ Greens aren’t perfect on cycling policy (what with the piccy of Kevin Hague in a helmet still being used for instance, and no mention of the repeal of mandatory helmet laws in NZ, but they’re the closest) but uniquely amongst the NZ political parties they actually have a cycling policy.

National want to spend $25 billion on grandiose motorway projects, and nothing on cycling other than signposting a few token tourist routes way away from the towns and cities that need decent cycling infrastructure.

Remember that the Greens have stated they’ll match any roads spending on public transport, cycling and walking dollar for dollar. So if you want the country to go forwards instead of backwards vote Green.

Give the Greens your party vote, as they’re still the best all round for cycling, and for all general policies. Party vote Green. Electorate vote to do the most damage to National. i.e. vote Labour, except in Epsom where you should vote National. If there are any Epsom voters who’ll do that, I offer to post you a peg in the mail, so you can hold your nose whilst doing so.

Keep MMP in the referendum question. We need to fix MMP, but wait til later. There are people (National) who want to get rid of proportional representation completely and go back to some unfair system that overrepresents the conservative vote. MMP has some good points for making the parliament more representative.  It does need reform since the recommendation above  to vote strategically in the electorate seats are because the electorate seats are first past the post. They need to go to preferential voting so we can vote positively for the party we want, ranking the other parties as we see them. I really think FFP on the electorate seats skew the results towards the conservative parties and an electoral system that doesn’t purely reflect the inspirations of the electorate is undemocratic.

Rimutaka Incline Railway Group proposes reinstating steam train to Manhattan’s High Line

17 11 2011

If you haven’t noticed there’s been a bit of an interesting (and sometimes ugly) debate about the Rimutaka Incline Railway group who want to destroy the Rimutaka Rail Trail for cyclists and their upcoming proposal to the GWRC Cultural and Social Wellbeing Committee. I’ve written about their proposal before. Here is what the Cycling Advocates Network thinks. For the Dom Post’s coverage, and for AKT’s. The comments on all are interesting, and you can see I’ve engaged them, got attacked personally, and I’m not conceding that their idea has any merit.

I’m not going to go over the same points again here. But I encourage everyone who loves the Rimutaka Rail Trail to click on the CAN’s link above and write an email to at least the GWRC’s Fran Wilde and Nigel Wilson and possibly other members of the committee. Tell them how fantastic it is as a rail trail and that you’d love to keep on having the opportunity to ride it.

Instead here at Wellington Regional Cycleways I’m not above mockery. (As you can see – mocking PRT enthusiasts, TranzMetro’s bus replacements, rubbish transport planning and eco-gnomic mismanagement). The kookier the idea the more deserving of mockery, so here in the spirit of the Rimutaka Incline Railway Group’s Steam Trains over the Rimutaka Rail Trail is their next project:

Rimutaka Incline Railway Group proposes reinstating steam train to Manhattan’s High Line

Before New York built its subways it used to have elevated railway lines. The new-fangled electric subway trains made the steam locos obsolete. Near Nome, Alaska around the change from the 19th to 20th centuries gold was discovered and in 1902 the Council City and Solomon River Railway was formed to service the goldfields. Construction proceeded from 1903 til 1906.  They bought some excess locos from New York and shipped them to Nome. The railway never turned a profit and went bankrupt in 1907. The engines were left where they were and today they are still there slowly sinking into the tundra. The Nome Chamber of Commerce has trademarked the site The Last Train to Nowhere, so I won’t use the phrase here. But I went to Council City (population 37) and it is hardly nowhere.

Photo by me

The High Line wasn’t one of the original elevated lines, but was built in the 1930s to raise the trains above 10th Avenue traffic. It was in use until 1980.

Then it was derelict and partially demolished. Between 2006 and this year they opened sections of the high line as public space for pedestrians, something in short supply in that part of Manhattan and it has become a bit of a poster boy for urban renewal.

The Rimutaka Incline Railway Group, never missing a great opportunity, is proposing to reinstate a tourist steam train service on the High Line banishing pedestrians to the sidewalk of 10th Avenue below. Pedestrians knowing who is Boss are calling it a 10th Avenue Freezeout. They estimate that all 300 million Americans will want to ride it in its first year of service.

Next the Rimutaka Incline Railway Group, in its never-ending search for rail technology excellence, has found the last trains to nowhere sinking into the tundra by the shores of Norton Sound. They did stop in Nome long enough to propose to the Iditarod committee to replace  the iconic dog sled race with a steam train, and then they realised that the rusting locomotives didn’t fit into the overhead lockers of their Alaska Airlines flight, so presently they are kind of at an impasse.

I believe they plan to approach the Carterton District Council asking the council to stump up the $320 million dollars to refloat the Titanic so they can ship the locomotives from Nome to Wellington on a this-time, ice-free voyage. Then they’ll strap the locos to the top of a Runcimans bus and come home up the SH2 to a deserved hero’s welcome in Upper Hutt.

And the irony is those Alaskan rust buckets with musk oxen for neighbours are in finer nick than anything the Rimutaka Incline Railway group has access to.

OK who want’s to see a musk oxen?

photo by me

Musk oxen, like cyclists on a rail trail, are a bit of an endangered species.