Guest blog from Jane Admore, Cycle Action’s Membership Secretary
Having family back from Europe these holidays we’ve remained in Auckland.
Vehicle numbers are way down, and although not quite reaching the urban cycling highlights described in Steve’s wonderful blog, it’s a pretty damn fine city.
We took the visitors, (habitual London cyclists who we are trying to lure home), down Grafton Gully to the waterfront for coffee. They were stunned by the changes in Auckland they left 5 years ago. The good weather certainly helped.
We often bike to the local beaches where families have their day tempered by the rhythm of the tide. (We also enjoy avoiding traffic queues to the family bach.) Whizzing home on the bike beats climbing into a hot car and stopping for roadside summer treats is a breeze.
We’ve done the airport run by car to collect visitors and their luggage. We’ve also hosted our first international cycle tourists that have assembled their bikes at the airportand started their trip immediately by cycling the 30k to our place.
Our latest airport trip was a day’s jaunt by bike.We set off down the Puketapapa cycleway (beside SH20 motorway) to the old Mangere bridge . We passed scores of local fisherfolk. Young fit Waka ama bodies were out training too. We’ve done the gorgeous Ambury park route (you can camp there too) in the past, so decided to try the tempting ‘green line’ (bike way through Mangere) to the airport. It’s not well signposted but enough sports people on the adjacent playing fields make it feel ok. Just before Kirkbride Road we were treated to a great sight of 5 golden pigs being turned on spits in one of the backyards we passed. A big feast was in store!
We’d planned to visit the Jamaica Blue café with its funky bike park the airport, but sadly it was closed. We went elsewhere – no lack of coffee out there or roadies enjoying the smooth roads. Fueled, we headed to our main destination – the Puhinui reserve down Prices Road, a big tract of rural land with a conservation reserve to the water. (It shows up as a green tangle on AT’s South Auckland cycling map) There are even more mountain bike routes, but the main tracks with great vistas were lovely on our touring bikes. Less hospitable was the short link over the fields that is part of the Te Araroa (NZ Walkway) to the Puhinui creek trail.
From there we could have taken the train back to town from the Puhinui station in 10 mins. However, the annual Christmas rail maintenance ‘close down’ was still in force, so we headed for another ‘coast to coast’ cycling route and the Half Moon Bay ferry. We marvelled again at the flat terrain & heaps of back streets that make heartland South Auckland look great as a cycling area. We took the Highbrook trail down the upper Tamaki Estuary, linking to the smooth quiet link to Burswood & the Pakuranga creek bike way. From here we connected to the Rotary bikeway on the lower Tamaki Estuary & headed for the ferry to Britomart station and downtown.
Back in town the tide was rising at Herne Bay, so we managed a quick swim on the way home. It was a great Auckland day on the bikes.
Other jaunts worth considering – (note :mid week services only, so grab them in the holidays)
- Taking the bikes & kids to Hobsonville on the midweek ferry. Great farmer’s weekend market & safe riding
- Catch the great Pine Harbour Ferry from downtown –weekdays only (& not public holidays – check AT website ) You’re straight into coastal delights . Push up the path to Beachlands & amble through to Omana Regional Park (& even make a camp stay) & around the coastal path to Maraetai. Laze on the golden beach & return the same way (don’t miss the last ferry!)
- Head out to Waiheke with Fullers Ferries (bike rides free) & grab the Waiheke Cycle Map. Stay with friends, at backpackers or the Whakanewha Regional Camp (beautiful tidal beachfront).
- The other riding you might enjoy is testing your possible commute (or your children’s safe ways to school) while traffic is low. Get a local cycle map & try out alternatives. Often cyclists can link up quiet routes through paths in parks and ends of cul-de-sacs to avoid main roads. The Dominion Road parallel routes are nearing completion too.
Notes & Links
Auckland Transport is advising that the Southern rail line (through Newmarket) and Eastern line are now open. Western line due to re-open 11th January. Still. always check AT website and scroll down for ‘rail bus replacements’ if your trip depends on a train connection. Remember trains prefer to carry bikes out of peak hours on busy lines, but they travel for free!
Regional Parks around Auckland. Need prior booking esp over Christmas/New Year
AT Trains & Ferries timetables
AT website Cycling Maps