Tag Archives: Cycling with kids

Exploring the Hawkes Bay

We started our Hawkes Bay tour on the day after Cyclone Cook passed through. We had planned our road trip 4 months earlier and weren’t going to let a Cyclone get in the way. Strangely enough the planning started in the back of the car in the rain when we were supposed to be sitting on the beach. In hindsight we maybe should have checked the roads were open and campgrounds were fully operational before we headed off but we were a bit excited about getting on the road.

It was fun exploring some new territory on the way to Napier, lucky it was fun as it was quite a long drive but the sun was shining after the storm and the scenery was stunning on the Napier Taupo highway.

As we drove into Napier we were detoured round a back road as a tree had fallen across the road and that’s when we realised that although Auckland had dodged the storm some parts of the country had still been hammered by strong winds and we had just driven into one of them.

After setting up the camper we decided to make the most of the Hawkes Bay sunshine and jumped on our bikes to explore the cycle trail along the waterfront that started right from our campground. The after effects of the storm made for an impressive swell crashing onto the beach which only added to the stunning views as we rode along the waterfront. A lovely flat trail and mesmerising views meant it was hard to turn around but as the sun sunk low in the sky we headed for home, well the camper.

The next day we planned to hit the Eskdale Mountain Bike Park. A tourist in the campground saw us in our bike gear and asked where we were off to and when we told him he said that the Mountain Bike Park had been pretty hard hit by the storm with lots of trees down. Undeterred and forever in denial we headed out anyhow. We probably only got 5 minutes ride into the forest before the path was blocked by fallen trees, and I don’t mean one tree lying across the path more of a stack of trees making the path impassable. Still undeterred we started carrying our bikes straight up the hill over and around all the obstacles. We met a local coming back down, chatted to him for a bit and then he grabbed one of our kids bikes and started carrying it up the hill for us.

Turns out he was part of the Club committee and seemed to take everyones enjoyment of the Mountain Bike Park very seriously so he gave us the inside word on what tracks could be ridden after the storm. Not many were unfortunately but we still had a great time ‘sessioning’ ( his word not mine ) a few of the trails and after a couple of hours riding we decided to head back to the carpark a different way, only to be meet by more broken trees.

After a quick lunch at the campground we headed out to explore Napier on a sunny afternoon and took in the beach at Ahuriri, then wound our way up Bluff Hill and watched the workings of the port below as the sun set. We then wandered along the Napier town centres waterfront gardens and experienced the big waves crashing onto the new pier.

The next day dawned sunny and clear which made for great views from the top of Te Mata Peak. You could drive all the way up but we decided to park half way and walk up which took about half an hour ( maybe more as we got distracted by the views ) along sheep tracks. As we walked back down my son spotted mountain bikers so decided he wanted to come back and check out the trails the next day. We had planned to ride some of the cycle trails but figured we had all day and we love riding so why not ride two places in one day.

So the next morning we headed back to Te Mata Peak for our ride. Its fair to say these rides would have been more enjoyable if they hadn’t been hit by a storm a few days earlier and as they were on the side of a mountain they were quite steep and muddy. After Te Mata it was back across town to ride the Puketapu Loop, part of the Hawkes Bay Cycle trails. These trails cover most of the Hawkes Bay in different sections that can be ridden separately or all together. We did a loop from Otatara Pa to the Puketapu pub and back again. It was easy riding along the riverbank with the bonus of a pub lunch but if wineries are more your style there are rides that include them as well, in fact there is a trail called the Wineries trail.

All in all we loved the Hawkes Bay and the East Cape adventures didn’t stop there…next stop Tolaga Bay!!

Urban adventures – the eastern pathway

Who would have thought 2km of concrete would change the way my family and I exercise? Well, the Glen Innes to Tamaki Drive Cycle Path (Te Ara ki Uta ki Tai) has done just that, with the arrival of the first 1.7km-long stage of what will soon be a great pathway from the eastern suburbs to the city.

I have always enjoyed exercising, and BC (Before Children) my husband and I enjoyed running and mountain biking together. Once we had children I wasn’t sure how exercise was going to fit into my life…  but found I could spend many a happy hour pushing my children around the neighbourhood in the pushchair.

Fast forward a few years and the whole family was training to walk the 20km Tongariro Crossing. I found I enjoyed training with the family as much as I enjoyed walking the Crossing itself. Around the same time, we started mountain biking with the kids, and have spent many happy hours in the Rotorua Redwoods forest. Rain or shine, it’s a great place to ride.

To be honest, I’m a mountain biker through and through, and I wasn’t that interested in the cycle paths around Auckland, apart from a couple of rides along the Northwestern Cycleway while training for the Timber Trail. All of that changed when we got our own local cycle path. Well, obviously not just for us – I mean, when the eastern cycle pathway opened in our neighbourhood.

I was keen to check out the new bit of pathway as soon as it opened, so I walked it with my mother and four children on scooters, and our love of that piece of concrete began.

Before long, the kids and I were checking out the cycle path on a regular basis. They ride their bikes, and I run. I love that it’s right on our doorstep, I don’t have to worry about the kids being on the road for a large part of our run and ride together, and I love that we are all getting out in the fresh air and moving our bodies together.

The kids always find something interesting to look at along the way, and the views from the St Johns end of the track are stunning. My son and I also discovered a great new loop using the cycle path to connect to Merton Rd and ending up in the Stonefields wetlands area.

For some reason, the path has undulations in the concrete surface. They would be most annoying if you are a commuter cyclist using the path every day, and my son trying to clock 50km/hr on the downhill (good luck, kiddo!) doesn’t like them one bit. Also, when running it’s a bit unnerving when you scuff the bottom of your shoe on the ridges and nearly stumble. Glad to hear AT has advised they are re-assessing the usefulness of the undulations and hopefully they’ll get fixed.

We now eagerly await the next section of the eastern cycle pathway to connect us to the Orakei Basin boardwalk. We will be able to explore so much more territory… and who knows what new urban adventures await?

Here are our tips for enjoying a shared path in your neighbourhood:

  • An off-road path is a safe way to get your kids into cycling – although if they’re total beginners, you can start with a big grassy field. Check out these other great places to ride with kids.
  • A bell on your bike is a definite must, especially when kids on bikes are sharing a shared path with people walking and jogging and other kinds of active travel.
  • Say hello to everyone you see along the way – wouldn’t it be nice if that strip of concrete brought our community closer together?