Friday, 15 January 2016

Paekakariki to Waikanae

We are having quite a nice summer – plenty of sunshine and, despite predictions of horrendous winds thanks to an El Niño pattern, we have had many days with just gentle breezes. Having said that however, as I am writing this, we are indeed being subjected to fierce winds, and I worry for the pohutukawa trees in our garden, which are just coming into flower now (two weeks later than normal). The wind might shred the flowers before they’ve even come out properly. Darn!

Wednesday last week (6 January) it was a gorgeous warm day, and we decided to go and check out the newly built Te Ara o Whareroa cycle trail through Queen Elizabeth II Park. The trail is due to be officially opened on Saturday 23 January, but it was completed several weeks ago.

We started out quite late in the day, and took the 12.25 pm train from Takapu Road to Paekakariki, with the e-bikes. We had coffee and a scone at the Beach Road Deli first, then biked down Beach Road to The Parade, on the Paekakariki foreshore.

A gorgeous pohutukawa in full bloom at the bottom of Beach Road (photo by John)

At the end of The Parade is the Paekakariki Surf Club. Surf Lifeguarding is a wonderful community service, provided by trained volunteers. At beaches around the country, Surf Lifeguard Clubs determine the safest area to swim, mark it with their recognisable red and yellow flags, and keep an eye out for any swimmer in trouble. In the 2014/15 year, the surf lifeguards rescued over 1,300 people. But today it was very quiet on the lifeguarding front, allowing time for a bit of housekeeping. 

Cleaning down one of the surf life boats at the Paekakariki Surf Club (photo by John)

We rode past the Surf Club, to the start of a cycling track. But this was not the correct entrance to the new track, as we had to push the bikes on the beach sand for a stretch, before being able to get onto a bridge across a stream. After a while we came to where the track had come from and we continued on the correct track.

The track we should have been on is beyond the palm trees (photo by John)

This is where we should have come from (photo by John)

Now on the right track, we really enjoyed cycling on this lovely wide, sealed path. It meandered around the sand dunes, not too much up and down, just very gentle undulations. Very different from the coastal track, which we rode back in August 2014, and which goes up and down the dunes, with a number of short, quite steep sections. 

A gentle meander around the sand hills (photo by John)

We crossed Whareroa Road, and the Tramway Museum tram tracks (photo by John)

More lovely hillsides (photo by John)

The track ends at Poplar Avenue, in Raumati. There we met Dr David Scott, a Kapiti District Councillor. He was checking on the gate which gives access to the track to cyclists, but denies access to the likes of motor bikes or dirt bikes. Apparently there had been complaints that the gate was not wide or high enough to allow bikes with paniers through the gap. We didn’t find it a problem with our smaller wheels.

District Councillor David Scott was canvassing cyclists’ opinions about the gate (photo by John)

We talked for a while, and he told us that he’d had a SmartMotion e-bike (full size) for nearly two years, and was delighted with it. Then we carried on towards the Raumati waterfront, and along to Paraparaumu.

The beach at Raumati, with Kapiti Island (photo by John)

From Manly Street, we entered the estuary track to Otaihanga. While heading towards the Waimanu Lagoon, we met a couple with brand new looking folding bikes – Terns. Yay! kindred spirits! Of course we stopped to talk.

They were Wyn and Jane, a retired Welsh couple (long-time Paremata residents, but still with the lovely Welsh lilt in their voices) and they had given each other the bikes for Christmas. They were still getting used to their bikes. Wyn mentioned that he was having a bit of bother with changing gears, so John took a look and adjusted the derailleur for him, which seemed to solve the problem.

Of course we told them about our bikes and this blog, and they were very interested, saying that my blog would be useful for giving them ideas for good places to cycle.

As John was taking a photo – for the blog, of course – another passing cyclist offered to take a photo of all four of us.

With Wyn and Jane – and four folding bikes (photo by a passing cyclist with John’s camera)

It was well after 3pm – the time we would have had to return by if we’d wanted to use our Gold Cards (for free travel) on the train. So we carried on to The Long Beach Café in Waikanae Beach, to have a late lunch or early dinner.

We sat in their courtyard, and ordered iced coffees and a pizza. The coffees came immediately, but the pizza was a long time in coming. Finally someone came to tell us that in the change-over of chefs in the kitchen, our pizza had got burnt. But they would make us another one, and it would be free of charge. Bonus! we weren’t in any hurry anyway. When it came, it was very nice.

In the courtyard of Long Beach Café in Waikanae (photo by John)

We debated whether to take the train from Waikanae or from Paraparaumu, and since it was already 5:15, we thought we could take our time and ride back to Paraparaumu, so that we could use our Gold Cards after 6:30. We sat on a bench in the sun, overlooking the estuary, for a while.

The estuary of the Waikanae River, with Kapiti Island in the distance (photo by John)

Families playing by the river – viewed from the Otaihanga Domain bridge

From Paraparaumu Beach, we wanted to avoid biking down Kapiti Road, which is rather a busy road, and John “knew” the way to the track that goes round the other side of the airport. But we cruised and meandered all over the place, and finally John gave in and decided to consult the map on his phone. While we were standing there, a woman walking her dog came up and asked if we were lost. “Yes, we are!” I said (something a man would never admit to …).

It turned out we were quite close to one of the entrances to the track. “Just go to the end of this road, and turn right onto the track". Excellent.

The track that took us to the Coastlands shopping centre (photo by John)

We ended up near Coastlands shopping centre, and were able to go down through the underpass to the railway platform. The electronic sign showed that the next train was due in one minute. What excellent timing. And it was 6:40 so we were able to use our gold cards, and travel for free. What a great day!

1 comment:

  1. looks like a great ride,reminded me of when I used to live there,love the photos