We tried out the new Waterview Shared Path and the verdict is – highly recommended.
If you’re driving there, and especially if you have younger children, a good place to park is next to Harbutt Reserve, on the corner of Phyllis Street and Harbutt Avenue. There’s plenty of on-street parking there, and importantly, there’s a great playground that’s mostly under the shade of a huge tree. There’s some shady spots on the grass for a picnic too.
Harbutt Reserve is about halfway along the northern part of the path. We looped from there up to Great North Road (Oakley Park) and back, then explored along to the end of the path at Trent Street, next to the railway line (time it right and you can watch trains from the overbridge), before returning to Harbutt Reserve.
There are a few rises to go up and down, but they were easy enough, even for the balance bike and pedal bike with only one gear. And the downhill bits were fun to get up some speed.
There are a few roads and entrances to cross, but there were no busy roads in the stretch we went on, and they’re really well marked, with bollards and red ‘give way’ markings on the path. Even with our youngest I felt very comfortable that they were safe, and knew when they needed to look out for cars and other vehicles.
Going through Unitec is great, and in lots of places along the path there are trees big enough to provide some shade for when we wanted to pause for a moment. Many more trees have been planted along the way too, so it’ll only get better.
Once inside the Unitec campus, the big new walking/biking bridge over Oakley Creek is fun to ride across, and has great views down into the gorge.
Crossing the bridge brings you to Great North Road. Smaller children will likely not enjoy or be confident about being so close to such a busy road. Older children and adventurous types can head north along Great North Road’s shared paths to get to the Waterview Heritage Area (which has a scooter track, a skate bowl, and a playground).
In theory, you could venture out along the Northwestern Cycleway, either towards Te Atatu (the first stretch across the causeway is visually interesting for kids), or back towards the city via the rainbow path and back into Unitec’s grounds.
To help plan your visit, check out AT’s useful map, with close-ups and highlights nearby.
Things to consider
With small children, make sure the kids know about keeping left. It’s a well-used path including some cyclists who seemed to be doing some serious training. Everyone is generally friendly and tries to keep out of each other’s way, but if a child randomly veers into their path, they wouldn’t have anywhere to go, and it could well end up with a pile-up.
We didn’t see any toilets along the way. If anyone knows where there might be some, please let us know for next time!
Next to Harbutt Reserve is an off-leash dog area. There were no dogs at all when we went, but if you or your child aren’t comfortable with that, maybe best to start somewhere else.
The Avondale train station is fairly close to the Trent Street end of the shared path, so that would be a fun option too.
If you’re looking for an even longer ride for adventurous older children: the path continues on the south side of the railway line through Alan Wood Reserve, traveling alongside Te Auaunga/ Oakley Creek and SH20 towards Te Whitinga, the new bridge just south of the Waterview Tunnel. It’s a spectacular ride to Te Whitinga and back, but there’s not much in the way of amenities, so BYO drinks and snacks.