The Tamaki Path on the shores of the Tamaki Estuary

Tamaki Drive is rightly famous, but if you want stunning water views without the crowds, look a little further afield and discover the Tamaki Path for your next family bike adventure

Completed in mid-2019, the Tamaki Path is a fabulous greenway that runs for about 4km along the western side of the Tamaki Estuary, from the Panmure Yacht and Boating Club to Point England Reserve, with a further northern section mooted in the near future that would make for a full 5km route all the way to Wai-o-Taiki Bay.

Not only is this a spacious, smooth and uncrowded pathway, it takes you through green spaces with very little traffic and few houses nearby, so at times it feels like you’re not in the city at all.

The path begins at the Panmure Yacht and Boating Club on Kings Rd, and runs northward to Kiano Place, off Taniwha Rd in Glen Innes. There’s also easy access near the middle of the path at the Point England Reserve, which is at the end of Point England Rd.

Heads-up: if your kids are the kind who see a playground and suddenly decide they don’t want to do anything else, be warned there is a great new playground at the Panmure end of the path (in the Mt Wellington Reserve), which handily has new toilets too. That said, you don’t ride directly past the playground, so with a bit of luck and some careful steering, you can work things out so they’ll only spot the playground on the way back.

There’s also a playground (and more toilets) at the Point England Reserve in the middle, if you need a handy carrot to motivate little riders.

The path is lovely and wide and flat the whole way – a great ride for little legs or big. Although it runs alongside the river, in most places there are metres of grass between the path and the estuary, so there’s no need to worry about little kids ending up taking an unplanned swim.

In the one section where the path is right alongside a steep drop to the estuary, a wooden barrier curb has been added to keep small wheels from veering of.

The path has stunning views of the Tamaki estuary, and you’re also rewarded with great views of Maungarei (Mt Wellington) along the way.

The estuary itself is mostly mudflats at low tide, and there are some steps down to the water in places. If you have older children, you might find they see a stream on the mudflats and scramble down the bank to explore, like mine did.

There is a lovely little white sand beach at the Point England Reserve..

Also around the Point England area are lots of picnic tables with views of the water. On one of the days we visited there was a chilly breeze, but with tables in such a variety of spots, you should be able to find at least one that’s sheltered from the wind.

Pack your picnic and BYO thermos of coffee, as this is an old school adventure and you wont find a café near this path. But you will find lovely green spaces, playgrounds, and wide open views of the water.

A bonus longer ride for more confident adventurers…

If you’re looking for a longer ride, you can join the Tamaki Path to the Pakuranga Rotary Shared Path and ride up and down both sides of the estuary. My husband and I have done this to train for riding the Heaphy Track.

Note: this involves a 1km on-road section in the middle, so use your judgement about what your children can handle if you’re thinking of doing this as a family.

Starting at the south end of the Tamaki Path, head out of Mt Wellington Reserve past the playground, and turn left onto Dunkirk Road, then right onto Kings Rd, left onto Riverview Rd, left again onto Queens Rd, then veer right onto Bridge Rd. This sounds complicated, but is straightforward in practice – you’re basically aiming to stay as close to the river as you can. These are relatively quiet streets.

This brings you to the Pakuranga Highway, where you ride across the famously skinny path on the north side of the Panmure Bridge. Watch for oncoming bike traffic! (Good to know: this will be much improved as part of the AMETI Eastern Busway project, which will add a proper cycleway to the highway, and a whole new bridge at this crossing).

Then once you’re on the eastern side of the estuary, look for signs for the Pakuranga Rotary Shared Path. Access via the boatyards close to the bridge is under construction at the time of writing (July 2019), so we continued to Kerswill Drive and joined the path that way.

The Pakuranga Rotary Shared Path is a wide, flat 9km long path that runs up the eastern side of the Tamaki Estuary and continues to Prince Regent Drive.

(If you’re feeling even more adventurous and are confident with riding on the road, you can continue onward to the ferry terminal at Half Moon Bay Marina, about 1.6km further on. Note: this involves on-road riding, so use your judgement.)

A nice bit of boardwalk along the Pakuranga Rotary Shared Path.

 

This blog was originally written for Bike Auckland – you can check out more of their great content and all things biking in Auckland here.

There is also a kids ride section.

 

Looking for Kiwi…and finding them

We had just been to the South Island and visited Stewart Island hoping to see Kiwi but while we heard them we weren’t lucky enough to see them.

However, on a camping trip to Tawharanui we were lucky enough to see two and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life so I wanted to share some Kiwi spotting tips so everyone can experience the wonder of seeing New Zealand’s national bird in the wild.

Of course you will have to wait till its dark , darker than the image I have used above for this post , I just didnt have any night time shots to use.

 

 

Exploring a volcano in my own neighbourhood

I’ve always enjoyed the Auckland landscape with its stunning harbour and dormant volcanoes dotted across the horizon. Growing up in East Auckland my local volcano was Mt Wellington/Maungarei and seeing this mountain always connected me with coming home. I am now lucky enough to raise my family in a suburb that has views of that same volcano.

Maungarei is a 135m volcanic peak, and is one of Auckland’s many dormant volcanoes, formed by an eruption around 10,000 years ago.

Not only is Maungarei a dormant volcano with the largest scoria cone of any volcano in Auckland, it was also a significant pa in the Tamaki area and still has examples of early Maori life including terraces, middens and pits.

In March 2019, the pine trees that have grown for over 100 years on the mountain were removed and over 10,000 native trees are going to be planted over the next few years.

And all of this right in the heart of Auckland and in my neighbourhood. We have enjoyed many walks from our house up Maungarei, from the whole family training for Tongariro Crossing to my daughter and I training for Abel Tasman and when we just want an urban adventure. The summit of Maungarei is the perfect spot to enjoy the stunning views of Auckland city and the harbour.

In fact walking is the only way to enjoy this culturally and historically significant site in East Auckland as the road has recently been closed to vehicles.

Its nice to see an old favourite landmark getting the love and appreciation is deserves and I have a new appreciation for the mountain that links to my childhood.

Ways to enjoy Maungarei:

  • You can park at Mountain Rd, Mt Wellington and walk up the road which is now more of pedestrian path seeing as its closed to traffic.
  • The ‘road’ up the mountain is still open to cyclists and those with impaired mobility wanting to enjoy all that Maungarei has to offer can contact the Auckland Council to obtain a code for the gate at the bottom of the road.
  • Park near the Hollywood Bakery on Lunn Ave and walk along the Stonefields Heritage trail and up the mountain from there.
  • Park in Stonefields, near Papango St and Tihi St and walk up the Stonefields Heritage trail and then up the mountain.
  • Once you are at the top you can chose to enjoy the views or walk right around the crater which takes about half an hour

Other things to do in the area:

  • Enjoy the wetland area in Stonefields – you can walk there via the Stonefields Heritage Trail.
  • Check out some of the playgrounds in the Stonefields area
  • Explore the Stonefields Heritage trail which runs from Golan Rd ( close to the carpark at the bottom of Maungarei ) to Magma Crescent and goes passed cafes and restaurants in Lunn Ave.

Tiri Tiri Matangi

Tiri Tiri Matangi is such an awesome spot for bird watching and located so close to Auckland, just a picturesque 1 ¼ hour ferry trip across the Hauraki Gulf from central Auckland.

You can visit for the day or stay the night in the Department of Conservation hut.

When you visit I have put together some handy hints to maximise your bird watching experience;

  • paying for a guided walk is well worth it ( you book this when you book your ferry ticket ) and all the money goes straight to the sanctuary society
  • look up and you will be surprised at what you see. Our visit to Tiri Tiri Matangi was the the best bird spotting we have experienced and we all came home with sore necks from looking up #birdspottinginjury
  • while there is an awesome visitor centre on the island there are no shops selling food so make sure you take enough supplies.
  • most of the trails would be pushchair friendly although a little steep – going at a slower pace would be great for bird watching though.
  • the penguin nesting boxes are easier to view when you put your phone on camera and use the phone screen to view
  • there is a ute and trailer that can take your gear up the top of the hill to the visitor centre ( and if you are staying the night they take your gear up the hill too )
  • if you want to stay the night in the hut, plan to book early as its very popular and such a great way toe experience the island after the day trippers go home

and the other thing I learned is that the kokako ( featured in the image above) is actually rarer than the kiwi so we were super lucky to have one put on quite a show for us on our last visit

To book your ferry go to the Fullers website, hut bookings for overnight stay are on the Department of Conservation website.

https://www.doc.govt.nz/tiritiribunkhouse

https://www.fullers.co.nz/destinations/tiritiri-matangi-island/

Saving you time and money on transporting bikes

We’ve spent a bit of money on transporting our bikes over the years so to save you the money I thought I would take you on our bike rack journey and rate each one.

When we went from 2 bikes to 4, 2 of the 4 were kids bikes and fitted on to our existing bike rack which was just a two prong tow bar one. We got away with that for quite a few years, it took a while to strap them all on and the bikes were pretty jammed on so there was lots of making sure they didn’t rub together and we also couldn’t get into the boot of the car when we had the bike rack on.

 

When the kids upgraded to adult sized bikes we purchased a 4 bike two prong one. After a while wrangling 4 adult size bikes on to the two prong tow bar bike rack and wondering about the weight dangling off the bike rack and tow bar, we moved on to the channel bike rack. This seemed like a game changer as it was so much easier to put the bikes on; they all had their own channel so no chance of bikes rubbing together and quicker to strap on but we still couldn’t get in to the boot of the car.

Along with not being able to get into the boot we also couldn’t tow our camper when we had the bike rack on the tow bar.

Cue the next change in transporting our bikes – yes, we finally bit the bullet and spent the money on roof racks to transport the bikes. My husband got some roof racks off Trademe but it did still cost more than the other two bike racks combined. The ease of putting the bikes on the car and being able to get into the boot is a game changer. It’s a little tricky getting them up on top of the car but once up its very quick to secure them. Not to mention we can now tow our camper and take our bikes away too.

Given our time over we would bite the bullet and go straight for the roof racks.

As its my husband who puts the bikes on the car most of the time I have also asked for his input on the grading system used below.

  Two prong Channel On the roof
Ease of putting bikes on Fairly quick but need to arrange bikes so no rubbing. Fairly quick but need to arrange bikes so no rubbing. Fast. Strength and balance required to lift bikes onto roof.
Cost $$ $$$ $$$$
Can open boot No No  Yes
Can use tow bar No No Yes
I ( Charmaine ) can load bikes on rack by myself No No Probably not

Another thing to consider is going up and down steep driveways when the racks that go on the tow bar can get in the way.

There is also the Thule Bike rack that is two ball mounted and swings out of the way giving you the ease of putting bikes on at easily accessible height and access to the boot but not that ability to tow anything.

Sharing family fun & adventures from the kitchen to the great outdoors