Monday, 6 July 2015

Pukerua – Pauatahanui – Whitby

In amongst the horrible wintry days, we do get some lovely fine ones, and Wednesday 1 July was such a day – cold, but sunny and calm. With our e-bikes, we took the train from Takapu Road to Pukerua Bay. We discovered that the Takapu Road station had had a make-over since we were there last. A flash new shelter had been installed.

The new shelter at Takapu Road station (photo by John)

As the train sped past Porirua Harbour, the view was gorgeous – flat calm, like a mirror, with lovely reflections of the Whitireia Peninsula opposite.

We had a couple of false starts trying to find the pedestrian overbridge near Pukerua Bay station. John thought it was this way, I thought it was that way. We found it – it is a much safer way to get across SH1 than trying to do so at ground level.

The ramp of the Pukerua Bay pedestrian bridge over SH1 (photo by John)

We rode down Te Ara Harakeke, the shared walking/cycle path alongside the motorway. Whee! No need to pedal! When we got to Whenua Tapu (the cemetery), I suggested we go up Airlies Road, towards Karehana Bay, rather than taking the easy way down the cycle path to Plimmerton.

We’ve only ridden up there once before, on John’s suggestion and with my serious misgivings. It was before we had the e-bikes, and he claimed it would be “just up a little hill" and then it would be all downhill to the Karehana Bay. It wasn’t.

It is quite a lot of uphill, and rather steep at that. That first time I struggled up it, huffing and puffing, having to get off and walk, purple-faced with the effort, cursing and muttering dark grumblings. This time however, with the e-bikes, it was a whole lot easier. I won’t say it was a doddle, it was still hard work, but with the e-assist set at 3 and sometimes 4, at least I did not have to get off and walk.

Downhill all the way to Karehana Bay from here (photo by John)

When we got to the bottom, we noticed some activity and a big crane at the wharf by the Boating Club. We went to investigate. They were repairing the wharf, propping up some of the piles which had become wobbly.

Wharf repairs at the Plimmerton Boating Club (photo by John)

The other wharf and boat launching ramp by the Boating Club (photo by John)

We rode along, through Plimmerton, onto the track that runs beside the railway line. There is a little beach on the other side of the Ngati Toa Domain, but I’ve never seen any people there.

A nice little beach north of the Ngati Toa Domain (photo by John)

At the Domain, we crossed the railway line and SH1, to head towards the Camborne Walkway – one of our favourite tracks. The Pauatahanui Inlet was calm and mirror-like. We watched a grey heron wading through the shallow water at the edge. Long, slow steps, very regal.

Watching the heron (photo by John)

A glimpse of the reflections between the boat sheds (photo by John)

One of the sheds had a painting on each end wall. One side showed the poet Sam Hunt and his dog Minstrel, the other side a seascape with what I assume must be one of his poems. Sam Hunt is a well-known poet, apparently much-loved by NZers, who lived in several of the boatsheds on the Pauatahanui Inlet.

Sam Hunt and his dog Minstrel – and me … (photo by John)

Some of my friends gasp in horror when I say that I detest poetry. I am probably too practical – poetry is too vague and waffly to my taste, a pointless waste of time and energy. And I must admit that I don’t like Sam Hunt’s voice or his delivery either, when he reads his poems. But he’s a local hero, so there you go.

Toetoe and flax (photo by John)

On Te Ara Piko – “The Meandering Path” along the edge of the inlet – we found that two new information panels had been installed at Ration Point. Each featured a photo of the landscape one sees from there, with smaller photos and details pointing out some of the highlights.

Two new information panels at Ration Point (photo by John)

We carried on around the inlet, to the Ground Up Café for lunch, and then rode into Whitby, intending to return to Porirua via Bothamley Park.

Whitby has a very extensive network of walkways which are lovely to bike on. The only trouble is that they are not properly signposted. There are signs with a picture of a walking man pointing to where a track starts, but there is no information as to where it leads.

And we got lost. I am completely directionally challenged – I need a map, and then I still have to turn it round and round to figure out which way I am facing. So I have to rely on John, who seems to have a natural flair for direction most of the time. We went up this path and down that road. All very pleasant, but we clearly weren't making any headway. When I said “You’re lost, aren’t you?”, he replied “That’s OK, we just have to keep the sun on our right, and we’ll get there”. Such confidence.

Whitby has some lovely walking/cycling pathways (photo by John)

We rode under some big macrocarpas …

… and beside a pleasant stream (photo by John)

We-e-ell, he was right, in principle, as we did get to Porirua – eventually. Then again, he was wrong, because we didn’t go via Bothamley Park. Instead of going south towards Bothamley Park and Cannons Creek, we went north towards the Inlet again. We came down Postgate Drive, and ended up on Paremata Road.

This is where we ended up, on Paremata Road

Looking towards the Paremata Bridge

Fortunately there was a foot/cycle path along the water’s edge (there isn’t further around the Inlet, and it is rather hazardous to bike there). So we biked back to Porirua past the Aotea Lagoon, and then along the Porirua Stream, back to Takapu Road, where our car was parked.

The last couple of kilometres through Tawa are on a lovely wide, smooth path, and here John challenged me, “I’ll race you!”. We cranked our assist levels up to 5, and belted along like a couple of youngsters! Nobody else was around, so we didn’t endanger anyone. I was winning, but in the end I had to admit defeat, as my legs couldn’t keep it up. In fact I paid for it in pain in the next few days, especially as I had three dancing nights that week as well. Scottish Country dancing is hard on the old calf muscles!

Despite getting lost, we’d had a great ride – 43 km.

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