Warm up with a westie winter bicycle adventure

The best way to celebrate new shared path connections is to go for a ride! And winter can be the nicest time to do it. On a beautiful crisp sunny Saturday in July, me and a couple of gal pals decided to make the most of it and head for a bit of an explore on some newly joined up off-road paths.

We met up at the opening ceremony for the newly refurbished Pt Chevalier Square, which was absolutely delightful. The new park benches rotate and slide to create a delightful activation for the community. They also allow you to make the most of catching the summer sun (or shade) so I recommend you grab a coffee from one of the Chev’s many cafes and check them out. There’s also new bike parking outside the library and the supermarket.

A local enjoying one of the clever new benches (image via Albert-Eden Local Board).
The Band at pt chev
The percussion band at Pt Chev, with the refreshed ‘town green’ behind.

After grooving to some percussion music from the drum band, we made our way across the intersection to the bike repair station on Unitec grounds. If you know this route, which is part of the NW cycleway, the grumble is that it’s pretty annoying trying to get from the East side of Carrington Rd to the West.  There is a zebra crossing that’s out of the way to get to, and it’s a hassle to perform the required ‘dismount!’  An opportunity for change there, I think.

You can’t start a happy journey with low tire pressure, and bike tires need regular checking to ensure a smooth ride – so always make sure you check yours before you head off. But uh-oh you can’t have an adventure without gaining some experience.  We accidentally let the tire down while finding out that we didn’t have the right connector for the pump! Lesson number two – bring your bike tools!

A handy file photo of Max checking out the Unitec bike station.
A handy Bike Auckland file photo of Max checking out the Unitec bike-fixing station.

Luckily the Northwestern was teeming with people riding about on their daily business.  We were able to flag down a lovely couple, and after some lending of hands and creative thinking, they had us on our way again. The delightful thing about the rest of our ride to Henderson is that it’s entirely protected off-road – and although we started at Pt Chev, we could have started at Britomart and made it the whole way to Henderson. Now that’s something special that’s happened in the last 12 months.

Waterview 2
Setting off at Waterview…

With beautiful views across the lagoon to the back of Rosebank Road, in no time at all we were passing through the new underpass at Te Atatu in no time. The path is wide, smooth and mostly flat, and when bike and foot traffic allowed we easily rode three abreast on it. Shortly after Te Atatu, there is a magical new turn off to the left of the path, linking up to the Twin Streams route, a best-kept secret although everyone should know about it.

Twin streams turn off
The turn-off from the NW cycleway to the Twin Streams route towards Henderson.

After you leave the NW and turn onto Twin Streams, a shared path hugs the creek the whole way into the heart of Henderson. It’s narrower than the motorway cycleway, with a few ups and downs, but full of revelations and beautiful views, and so green!

Like a Monet painting; the bridge over a tributary of Henderson Creek at king tide (photo: Bike Auckland)

All along the route there are people walking, running, riding bikes, or just hanging out and picnicking. Why wouldn’t you, when you can get so close to nature and fresh air right in the secret middle of a busy suburb?!

Vintage signage reminds us who to thank for this pathway: the Auckland Regional Council and the Waitakere City Council.

It’s a great option for a family day activity, whether on foot or on wheels. There are exercise activity stops installed along the path, and finding out how to use them is only half the fun. The other half is having a cheeky laugh at your friends attempting to use them.  With handy bike parking at each one, it makes things very easy to get involved.

Bike parking on twin streams
Bike parking along the way, on the Twin Streams route.

Our happy trio rolled into Henderson City just as the afternoon was starting to fade away, and who should we bump into but our favourite bike tire saviours from early in the day.  Thankfully they were there again to point us in the direction of the nearest place to find refreshments (we thank you, bike angels!). Bags stocked, we made our way back to Tui Glen Reserve to relax in the remains of the day with good friendship, good conversation, and good crisps.

Refreshments at tui glen (1)
Refreshments at Tui Glen. (The Falls restaurant is nearby, and a nice spot to grab a bite)

Note for anyone with children who isn’t familiar with Tui Glen playground: you have to book it in your calendar! An excellent playground that’s fun to bike to. It’s a hop skip and a jump from the West Wave Aquatic Centre, too, if you’re looking for even more activity.

Tui Glen playground (photo: Bike Auckland)

As the sun started to set, we turned on our lights, pulled on our merino and got back in the saddle for a somewhat racier ride home. Yes, you can have beautiful sunny days in the heart of winter, but once the sun starts to set, you want to be on your way, keeping warm with no stops till home. Still, if you come prepared for an evening ride (lights, cardie, action!), you will be treated with stunning city views, with Rangitoto and the Harbour Bridge looking postcard perfect. Something I tried to capture on my phone camera that had no way of doing it justice…

Photo not doing it justice (1)
Magical city skyline at night from the NW cycleway (phone camera not quite up to the job!)

It was a spectacular day and a refreshing ride. We’ll definitely be making this trip again and I recommend it to anyone. Auckland, I have to say – you are pretty well connected these days, and on your way to an outstanding bike-friendly future!

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