Thursday, 25 February 2016

Tawa to Hongoeka Bay

Last Sunday, we set out with a plan to bike from Tawa to Mana, have lunch and bike back. We ended up going quite a bit further, covering a total of 41.5 km.

We started out from Tawa’s Takapu Road Station carpark, riding on Te Ara Tawa, the very nice walking and cycling path that runs along the railway line, through quiet suburban streets, and then along the Porirua Stream as far as Kenepuru station.

On a Sunday, there was plenty of parking at the Takapu Road station carpark (photo by John)

John has made a new handlebar attachment for his camera, which raises it higher, so that the view is no longer obstructed by the bag that hangs off the front of the handlebar. He is now able to take photos without having to stop.

The cycle path crosses Tawa Street near Redwood station (photo by John)

The wide footpath on Beauchamp Street accommodates both pedestrians and cyclists
 (photo by John)

After crossing the Porirua Stream, the path runs between the stream and the railway line
until Kenepuru station (photo by John)

The rest of the path, continuing to Porirua, is in the process of being constructed. I believe it is expected to be completed in early- to mid-March. We are looking forward to that, because for now, to get from Kenepuru to Porirua, we have to bike on the busy road, or on the footpath (perhaps not quite legal?) for about 1.2 kilometres.

The new path is about three-quarters completed, but is not yet accessible (photo by John)

From about opposite the Puketiro Centre, another path travels along the Porirua Stream to the city centre and beyond.

Along the Porirua Stream. The new track will run on the other side of the stream,
on the stopbank, next to the railway line (photo by John)

Heading towards Porirua city centre

From the city centre, we rode over the motorway overbridge, then alongside the motorway, and up into the new Aotea subdivision.

The motorway overbridge. The “Wrong Way” sign is for the benefit of car traffic, not us (photo by John)

As we were riding past the entrance to the Gear Homestead, we noticed the sign “Café – now open”. So we decided to check it out. This café has only been open for a few weeks, and we have to encourage such endeavours, don’t we?

The setting is quite gorgeous. The park-like grounds are beautiful and colourful, and very well maintained by the Porirua City Council.

The Gear Homestead itself is a magnificent old mansion, which is used for weddings and other functions. In fact, our eldest daughter was married there 21 years ago, this week. It is great that the venue now also houses a café, thus allowing for people who have not attended functions there, to come in and admire the place.

The lovely grounds of the Gear Homestead “Okowai” (photo by John)

The café occupies the two front rooms on the ground floor of the homestead, and tables and chairs dot the garden nearby. We parked ourselves and our bikes by a table under a big pohutukawa tree. John took a wander around the grounds to take photos – of course.

We chose a table under a big pohutukawa tree (photo by John)

The site has a grand view over Porirua Harbour and the motorway north (photo by John)

The homestead looks just as beautiful as it did 21 years ago, for our daughter’s wedding
 (photo by John)

Before our coffee had been delivered, we were approached by two ladies who asked to share our table in the shade (the other tables were in the hot sun). We were more than happy to oblige, and we spent the next half hour or so in pleasant conversation. They were interested in our bikes, and one of them turned out to have been a Scottish country dancer some years ago, and had been a member of the Tawa Club, to which John and I belong.

Isobel and Jess (I hope I’ve got their names right) joined us in the shade (photo by John)

After this pleasant interlude, it was time to push on. Since we’d already had lunch, Ruby’s café in Mana was no longer our destination, so we carried on towards Plimmerton and Karehana Bay, where we stopped for some photos at the Yacht Club launching ramp.

The posts mark out the launching channel. Mana Island is in the distance (photo by John)

At the end of Moana Road, there is a sign denying access to cars, but walkers are allowed. This is land that belongs to the Hongoeka Marae. We figured that cyclists would be OK too. So we carried on until the end of the Hongoeka Bay Road. From there, a gravel track continues along the coast.

We were hesitating about whether we would be trespassing if we continued, when a young couple, who apparently live in the area, told us it would OK for us to carry on. The track goes all the way around the coast, the man said.

It was gorgeous. Hongoeka Bay looks out towards Mana Island, and to the South Island beyond. The narrow path, which closely skirts the stony beach, ends up on a gravel road, which is in reasonable condition, apart from some areas with large puddles (there had been heavy rain a few days earlier).

The narrow track closely skirts the stony beach (photo by John)

This was the narrowest part of the track …

… then it joined a gravel road

Lots of lovely toetoe line the road – or is it pampas? Kapiti Island is in the distance
 (photo by John)

We went round a headland and the hillside was covered in pampas grass. A great sight, with their brownish-purple plumes waving in the wind. I thought they were native toetoe, but upon checking, I found that the plants with the purple plumes are in fact pampas grass. Toetoe’s plumes are creamy white.And pampas flowers in summer, whereas toetoe flowers in spring.

Around yet another corner, and we found ourselves at the end of the gravel. We faced a “road” consisting of rather large rocks. This would be manageable for a 4WD vehicle or a fatbike (mountain bike with extra fat tyres), but not for our little e-bikes.

A hillside covered in pampas plumes (photo by John)

A very rocky road

We walked the bikes for some distance. We could see another point up ahead, and we knew that eventually this track would lead to Pukerua Bay. We thought that if this very rough surface didn’t last too long, and if we managed to bike as far as Pukerua, we could climb up the hill road and bike home down Te Ara Harakeke (alongside the motorway). But it was not to be.

We trundled on, pushing our bikes, for about a kilometre on the rough stony surface. Then we met a group of walkers, who told us that it was a long way to Pukerua, and that the surface was just like this, all the way.

How disappointing. Oh well, nothing for it but to turn around, and walk back a kilometre until we hit the gravel road again.

The view towards the south (photo by John)

We had to negotiate some very large puddles (photo by John)

When we got back to the road by the Hongoeka Marae, John’s kilometre counter clicked over to show 3000 km. He’s done three thousand kilometres on this bike! Not a bad feat. And without any mechanical problems too. Pretty good little bikes they are, our SmartMotion e20s. My bike shows nearly 2700 km. (John does some of his biking on his own …)

John achieved 3000 km on the clock!

3000 km!

The last house on Moana Road always has a shop mannequin in an upstairs window, dressed in an appropriate outfit, relating to some current event. Last time we came by, when the Rugby World Cup was on, she was clad in rugby gear and carrying an oval ball. This time, she was wearing 1930s fashion, to celebrate the recent Art Deco weekend in Napier. Great fun, I wonder what they’ll come up with next?

Celebrating Art Deco weekend (photo by John)

From here we pedalled quite quickly to Plimmerton, where we stopped for an ice cream, after which we made a run for home, without any more stops on the way. We’d had a great afternoon, exploring a new area, and biking much further than we had originally intended – a total distance of 41.5 km.


  1. What a lovely description of an enjoyable bike ride, with great photographs - I really like the one of the launching channel. I gather that John was able to stay on his bike when he took some of the photos - useful new device. I was interested in your description of the cycleway through Tawa and hope to do this sometime. It looks as though you got nearly to Wairaka rock between Hongoeka Bay and Pukerua Bay, so you wouldn't had too far to go but yes, the last time I walked around there it would definitely be unsuitable for cycling. I don't like the thought of 4WDs driving round there, I hope they don't, I wouldn't like to encounter one while walking around this lovely stretch of the coast.

    1. Yes, the photos showing me biking along were taken while John was biking. I reckon he takes too many photos of my behind! ;-)

    2. Well, I guess his only alternative is to constantly race ahead and snap you coming towards him!