Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Hawke's Bay Cycle Trails – Day 4

Recently we went to Hawkes Bay for a few days’ riding the wonderful cycling trails in the region. This post is about day 4. You can check out days 1& 2 here, and day 3 here.

Day 4 – Sunday 1 December
Clive to Clifton – The second half of the Coastal Ride

Since it was Sunday, we started off the day by going to the Hastings Farmers’ Market. I enjoy the atmosphere at Farmers’ Markets – there’s usually music, coffee carts, lots of fruit and vegetables to buy, people sampling some of the delectable foods on offer, and people lugging bags full of goodies.

The Hastings Farmers’ Market. Isn’t that a magnificent tree in the background? (photo by John)

I especially looked for The Village Press, as I love their olive oils. One of my favourite indulgences is fresh ciabatta dipped in garlic-infused olive oil, yum! I also looked for, and found, smoked mushrooms. And we got a nice large jar of John’s favourite honey from The Naked Honeypot

We queued for coffee, and bought some little biscuits to go with it. We’re not fig eaters, but we did enjoy some of the poster boards outside the Te Mata Figs stall.

Oh, oops! (photo by John)

Then off to our ride. After the previous day’s mega-ride, my legs felt quite sore. I should have applied Antiflamme to the muscles before going to bed!  But I rubbed some on before we set off for the day, and that helped. Anyway, we thought a shortish, easy ride would be sensible.

We wanted to do part of the Coastal Ride again (this was our first major ride when we came to Hawke’s Bay last March). John suggested parking at Black Bridge and riding to the end of the track at Clifton. But I thought we could leave from Clive, ride as far as Te Awanga, and then turn around. This way we would ride through the East Clive Wetlands, which are quite beautiful. And I wasn’t that fussed about riding to the very end of the road, some of which went through residential areas. But I did want to go as far as Te Awanga, as that is where the Elephant Hill Winery and Restaurant are – perfect for lunch, I thought.

So we parked at Clive. As we were getting the bikes ready, we were hailed by someone calling out “Hello! I thought it was you!”. It was Frits, a locally resident Dutchman, whom we had met at the Clifton Café back in March, and we had had quite a discussion about our folding bikes, and his electrically assisted bike. In fact, it was our bikes he recognised, as we were getting them out of the car.

He was still riding his electric bike, which he acquired after he started to find that his legs weren’t up to longer rides anymore. We talked about the hill climbs we had done the previous day, and he said that the electrical assistance on his bike would certainly help with gentle hills. You still have to pedal, but you can enlist help from the electric motor while pedalling. He offered to let me try his bike, but the saddle was too high for me. John had a go, and he thought it was quite nifty, but rather heavy. Still, it may be an option for us, perhaps in ten years’ time?

He was heading in the same direction as we were, and while we were still donning helmets and gloves, he rode off, and we never caught up with him again.

As we started our ride, I noticed that the park by the side of the river, from where we set out, was called the Evers-Swindell Reserve. There were a couple of rowing crews on the river, so I figured that the park had been named to honour the champion rowing twins, Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell. When I checked it out on Google, I found this article about the renaming of the park.

A perfect rowing river, alongside the Evers-Swindell Reserve (photo by John)

Soon we were up on the stopbank, alongside the wetlands. The wetlands were a lot “wetter” than when we visited in March, which had been during a prolonged drought. This is a habitat restoration project, which is home to many kinds of coastal birds. We saw swans, pukekos, various kinds of ducks, and a heron.

The lime sand cycle path skirts the wetlands (photo by John)

A black swan and her six cygnets

The wind was up, but it was mostly behind us. Because we’ve cycled along here before, we didn’t stop for too many photos, but John did like the sight of the two people with their fishing rods on a spit of land. It reminded him of two Jedi Knights with their lightsabres.

Jedi Knights, about to do battle with their lightsabres? (photo by John)

We rode on the roads of the seaside village of Haumoana. Then again on a lime sand track, along the waterfront, though separated from the beach by public gardens. In one such garden I spotted a prickly pear cactus in flower. It was magnificent, and had hundreds of buds.

This prickly pear cactus was huge and was smothered in buds

It was just after midday when we arrived at Elephant Hill Winery.  Spot on timing for lunch! The drive up to the winery and restaurant was stylishly flanked by squat palm trees. In front of the very modern and sleek buildings, there is a statue of a life-sized elephant with three riders on it – presumably the Maharajah in the middle, the mahout in the front, and the servant at the back to hold the parasol. Very impressive.

The elephant that “Elephant Hill” is named after (photo by John)

There were big square sofas under umbrellas on the front verandah, but when we went into the restaurant for lunch we were taken to a the terrace on the side, which was surrounded by an infinity pool on three sides. Large umbrellas were set up (which also had heaters attached to the ribs – not going obviously), and a stack of hats was available for those wanting to sit in the sun. Very attentive.

The verandah was surrounded by an infinity pool, and beyond that, the vines. The other tables filled up soon after (photo by John)

Our lunch was delicious (and expensive!). We both had beef fillet steak (we felt we needed the energy, after the last two rides), with a green salad (which had flowers in it but no dressing), and a glass of the recommended red wine, 2011 Elephant Hill Hieronymus.

Coming back down the drive at Elephant Hill (photo by John)

While we were eating, we decided that, though we had only planned to go this far, we could keep going to Clifton, and have coffee at the café there. Which we did, and had iced coffee – yum, perfect. It wasn’t really that much further to go.

The Clifton Café. The young man striding along so purposefully was about to remove our glasses of water from our table! (photo by John)

The Clifton Café, and the nearby camping ground, are at the end of the road. From here, you have a great view towards Cape Kidnappers. If you want to go to Kidnappers, you have to either walk, or take a “tour” from here. We did the tour a few years ago (on wagons pulled by a tractor), and it was well worth it.

Cape Kidnappers in the distance, seen from Clifton Beach (photo by John)

On our way back through Te Awanga, we met this couple going out for a Sunday afternoon ride. You do meet some interesting characters while biking!

Somehow the beard and the penny-farthing seem perfectly suited. But how do you ever get up there? (photo by John)

The way back was harder as we were heading into the wind now. I had changed into a long-sleeved top. Although I had applied plenty of sunscreen before setting out in the morning, my arms were now starting to feel a bit broiled.

As we were riding back past the wetlands, the headwind was fairly strong, and we were struck by the beauty of the reeds bending in the breeze.

The reeds moving in the breeze looked magnificent (photo by John)

It was about 3:30 when we got back to the car, having cycled 30 kms. So much for a "short" ride!

We drove into Napier, to have a browse around the town. In Emerson Street John took some pictures of the lovely Art Deco sculpture of a woman and her dog, entitled “A Wave in Time”, by Mark Whyte. It was unveiled in 2012.

Hey! Guys! ... Bronze Art Deco sculpture “A Wave in Time” (photo by John)

Another piece of art cheering up the town centre was a large “pot of flowers”, which celebrated the recent opening of the new museum.

Celebrating the New Home of our Treasures – MTG Hawke’s Bay” (photo by John)

Being late afternoon on a Sunday, the only places that were open in town were the cafés and the Museum. The MTG Hawke’s Bay (Museum Theatre Gallery) is brandnew, and we thought we could have a browse.

But to our dismay, the admission fee was $15, and as it was now after 4pm, that seemed rather high for a 30 minute browse. Besides, I felt it was a bit “off”, since the museums in all the major cities (Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin) are free, so why is this one so expensive? Maybe, one day, if we have a good few hours in hand, we’ll go and take a look.

Instead we got some icecream cones, and went across the road to the Veronica Sunbay, to sit under its arches, and look out to sea. The Sunbay is a curved arcade of columns, with seating on both the seaward side, and facing inland towards the town. It was built in 1934 and named "Veronica Sunbay" after the HMS Veronica, whose officers and crew helped with rescue work in the aftermath of the 1931 earthquake.

The late afternoon sun created some wonderful shadows under the arcade, and we spent a while taking pictures, before heading home to our cottage.

Shadows in the Veronica Sunbay

Columns in the Veronica Sunbay (photo by John)

John likes the starkness of this photo (photo by John)

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