Guest blog from Pippa Coom, Deputy Chair, Waitemata Local Board
Several years ago I took a visiting American friend on a newly discovered bike ride that involved catching the ferry to Pine Harbour and then cycling to Maraetai return. It was one of the Auckland outings she enjoyed the most of her week long stay. There is still surprisingly little information available online about this fun, scenic, easy ride. A recent trip with friends and their girls aged 9 and 10 provided a great opportunity to do a write up so others can enjoy this Pohutukawa Coast day ride as much as we did.
Departure from Downtown: From Pier 3 (Quay Street) catch the Pine Harbour ferry. There are several morning ferries to chose from. We biked to the ferry from Ponsonby (via Westhaven Drive and Wynyard) and caught the 9.40am boat
Pine Harbour Ferry Timetable
Cost: Adult $10 one way with a Hop Card ($23 return without): Family pass $56.50 return. Bikes free (the friendly Pineharbour ferry staff make it really easy to get on and off the boat with bikes).
From the ferry at Pine Harbour turn left along the Marina promenade to the boat yard. Cross from the gate with the sign “Pedestrian access to Boat Park Jetty” to the small wooden hut in the boat yard (see photo). The path entrance is to the right of the hut (It is easy to miss but don’t be deterred by the lack of signage). Follow the path along the coast to Puriri Road (Note that the path is narrow so you need to ride slowly and give way to pedestrians).
Turn right from Puriri Road on to Second Ave. Cycle all the way along Second Ave to the very end. This section is all on- road but felt safe for children as it is through a sleepy suburb with very little traffic and friendly drivers.
Optional detour via Sunkist Bay: Instead of turning right on to Second Ave from Puriri go one more block to First Ave then after one block turn left on to Cherrie Road. At the end of Cherrie Road there is a path down to the Bay (narrow with a steep corner). You can then cycle along the seawall all the way to the Bay entrance at Ealing Cres that takes you up to Wakelin Road. Cycle along Wakelin Road two blocks to turn left on to Second Ave.
At the end of Second Ave is the entrance to Leigh Auton Reserve with relatively new shared paths and attractive landscaping. The reserve drops down to Te Puru Reserve along a coastal section to the entrance of Omana Regional Park. The good quality shared paths continue through the Park (the only slightly tricky bit is getting through the kissing gates at either end). We enjoyed a swim at Omana Beach and a rest under one of the many pohutukawa trees. A new shared path runs the length of Omana Beach Road to the entrance of the bush track that connects to Maraetai Beach.
The ride is about 12km return. Allow an hour in each direction at an easy pace with stops to enjoy the view. We caught the 2.40pm return ferry.
Facilities: On route there are plenty of toilets and a new drinking fountain has been installed at Omana Regional park (by the camping ground entrance)
Refuelling: At Pine Harbour there are a couple of cafes for a coffee on arrival or an icecream to end the ride. We stopped at Pepperjacks while we waited for the ferry home.
On route and at Maraetai there are lots of beautiful, shady picnic spots.
We had lunch at the Maraetai Wharf cafe
Bike hire: By hiring a bike Downtown this ride is especially easy for visitors who want to do a bit of exploring out of central Auckland.
Map: I originally heard about the ride thanks to Cycle Action organising a weekend bike ride when the connecting section through Leigh Auton reserve first opened in 2010. The map for this ride is still online.
Unfortunately the ferry doesn’t currently run at the weekend but there are lots of options for parking to do any part of the route if arriving by car.
Although only 35 minutes away arriving into Pine Harbour Marina feels like an exotic place a long way from Downtown The ride along the coast (mostly on shared paths) is fairly easy and offers up stunning views back to the city and across to Rangitoto and Waiheke. It is a nice surprise to arrive so easily by bike at Maratai beach with its retro laid back vibe.
The ride provides a great outing for those wanting to explore Auckland away from busy roads. Highly recommended especially for families with children who might want to do a test ride before going on a longer cycle trail. Including the ferry (on a week day) from Downtown makes it perfect day out for a school holiday adventure.