How to Train (and Ferry) Your Bike – the art of ‘trip-chaining’

Inspired by yesterday’s commuting feature, here’s a handy recipe for how to get almost anywhere in Auckland:

1. bike to train or ferry  

2. put self and bike on train or ferry

3. repeat.

The easier it becomes to get around the city – what with better cycleways and more bike lanes, speedier and more frequent ferries, and magical new EMU electric trains – the more places you can reach by combining these modes of transport, aka “trip-chaining.”

Check out this map we put together a few years ago showing a 3km easily bikeable radius around all train stations and ferry terminals.


There’s bike parking at the major stations and ferry terminals, if you plan to park and ride. But what still surprises many people is that it’s 100% free to take your bike on a ferry or a train(Alas, you still can’t put your bike on a bus, except on Waiheke, where it comes in very handy).

My bike on electric train

This makes it possible to imagine an entirely car-free day – doing errands or visiting friends or going out for the evening or commuting to work or just exploring. It’s also good news for those fine folk who, come the weekend, like to strap their bikes to the back of the car and head out of town for two-wheeled adventures. You know who you are. We say: don’t leave town till you’ve seen the city!

Top tips for training or ferrying with your bike

  • #Friding on the ferry (Pic by Duncan, via Twitter)
    #Friding on the ferry (Pic by Duncan, via Twitter)

    do avoid rush hour on the trains, unless you’re travelling against prevailing traffic. But DO try it at all other times, especially weekends! Plan an adventure, and take the whole family or a bunch of friends. (Rush hour on the ferries isn’t too bad by comparison, and the camaraderie is great).

  • look for the train carriage on the new electric units with the bike symbol on the side – almost always the middle carriage. It has a flat floor that meets the platform so you can wheel your bike on and off (ditto wheelchairs and pushchairs), and fold-up seats make space to park your wheels
  • follow staff instructions – or take your cue from other bike passengers – about how best to stash your bike for the journey
  • be a considerate citizen when parking your bike, getting on and off, or using lifts or ramps – either be quick, or let everyone else go first
  • get familiar with timetables, and figure out the easiest access to your local train station or ferry terminal (it’s better not to try and do this in a rush the first time)
  • be prepared to chat with fellow passengers about where you’re going and how easy it is!

And here are a few great trip-chain adventures to get you started

  • WATERFRONT RAMBLE Train to Britomart, then ride out along the Tamaki Drive shared path, for an entirely flat ride along the waterfront. If your kids like to pedal, this is a super family-friendly and achievable trip – especially on a calm and sunny day. Great stops along the way: Lilliputt mini-golf (just 3km from Britomart; the overbridge now has a ‘bike gutter’ so you can push your bike up and over); the fabulous flying fox playground at Okahu Bay (5km); Kelly Tarlton’s (5.6km); lunch and a movie at Mission Bay (7.2km).
  • ISLAND ADVENTURE Train to Britomart, and catch the ferry to Waiheke for the day! (Tip: bring a bike with plenty of gears and/or or aim to stick to the flatter routes… or indeed, hire an electric bike on the island, which takes the hills out of the equation)
  • COUNTRY IN THE CITY Train to Onehunga, then ride across one or both Mangere Bridges and bike through the quiet streets to Ambury Park to see the baby lambs. If your tires are grunty enough, carry on to the Watercare Coastal Walkway for some birdwatching.
  • A SHORE THING Train to Britomart then ferry to Devonport to check out the gorgeous new library. Climb North Head or Mt Victoria, visit Narrowneck Beach, or ride the green route through the back streets and parks up to Takapuna and back.
  • RIVERSIDE PARK Ferry to Half Moon Bay, where a ten-minute ride through quiet back streets will lead you to the Rotary Pathway, 9km of flat paved path along the river. Bring a picnic and plan for a leisurely ride (it’s a shared path with walkers). Great for families.
  • WEST IS BEST Catch a train to Henderson and explore the Twin Streams paths: the Opanuku section one takes you on an arty vineyard coffee trail, and connects northward to Tui Glen and eventually to the NW cycleway; while the shorter Oratia Stream section meanders through Sunnyvale towards a park (a nice map here shows how both paths fit in).
  • GET TO THE POINT Alas, no weekend ferries to Hobsonville Point at the moment. But on a weekday, you can catch a 9.00 ferry and have the place to yourself until the afternoon ferry starts up at 3.30pm. Explore the lovely bike-friendly streets, great playground and Catalina café, and ever-evolving bike trail around the coast. (You can also hire an adult-sized NextBike at the wharf or the café, if you like). Consider a side-trip to Whenuapai as well.
  • DINNER AND A BIKE Ride into town for an evening event, whizzing down the Grafton Gully cycleway… then chuck the bike on a half-empty homeward train to make life a bit easier!
  • TO BOLDLY GO! Feeling more ambitious? Our cycle touring guru Jane offers great options to take you even further afield.

What other bike-train-ferry combos have you tried and enjoyed? Tell us your favourites! And check out Barb’s great photo-essay on bikes and the new electric trains. 


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