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:
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.
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.
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.
Between the stopbanks the river was a bit flooded.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There’s not much 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.
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.