Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Hutt River Trail – Upper Hutt to Petone

A week ago, Sunday 1 May, we arranged to go for a bike ride with our friend Pat. We let the weather decide where we would go. Kapiti was due to have rain that day, so we decided to take the train to Upper Hutt instead, and ride down the Hutt River Trail.

Instead of taking the train from Petone, as we have done in the past, we left the car at home this time and biked to Johnsonville to take the train into town, and then another train out to Upper Hutt. Pat lives near the Johnsonville line, so we arranged to meet on the train.

At Wellington station, the train to Upper Hutt was waiting, but it would be another 15 minutes before it was to leave. We got on board and secured our bikes. Soon after, a young Asian couple with bikes arrived and also wanted to take them on the train. Since it was the weekend, there was only one carriage, with room for just three bikes. We were ready to fold down our bikes, to make room for theirs, but the guard wasn’t having any of that. She told the young couple in no uncertain terms they could not get their bikes on, and they complied. What a pity. With few other passengers, there was plenty of room to park our folded bikes in the pushchair area. A bit of flexibility would have worked fine for all.
From Upper Hutt Station we rode through the streets towards the riverside track by a different route – down Whakatiti Street which took us to a track running alongside the motorway for some distance. Eventually we were able to join the river trail at Moonshine Park.

The track beside River Road, SH2 (photo by John)

Moonshine Park (photo by John)

John is still trying to perfect his backward-looking camera – his phone attached in a bracket below his saddle – so he took a lot of photos of Pat and me biking behind him. One or two of these are fun, but fifteen?

By mistake, he also managed to record a number of video clips (he thought he was taking stills) and so he trimmed these down to make quite a nice little video of Pat biking. He paired it with a soundtrack of Queen’s hit “Bicycle Race”, and it looks quite good.

John and Pat on the River Trail

It's nice to have a photo of both of us (photo by Pat Reesby)

As we approached Silverstream, I was rather taken by the autumn colours of the trees along a driveway at the far end of a paddock. The weather is getting cooler, and the horses were already wearing their protective covers.

Autumn colours

There is a lovely autumnal fragrance along here from the fallen leaves (photo by John)

After stopping to take photos I had to put on a bit of speed to catch up with Pat and John. That wasn’t too difficult, as I was riding my e-bike, whereas Pat and John were riding non-powered bikes. I could have used the Giant too, but I think I am getting lazy in my old age!

Catching up (photo by John)

More autumn colours across the river

A stretch of narrow track between Silverstream and Taita (photo by John)

Improvements continue to be made to the Hutt River Trail. Stretches that were gravel are now sealed, and currently several culverts and bridges are being worked on. Hopefully the track over them will also be sealed eventually.

Improvements to one of the culverts (photo by John)

Something rather more major seems to be happening here. The riverbank on the right
was badly scoured out by floods last winter (photo by John)

Another culvert and bridge improvement coming up …

We stopped for coffee and eats at Janus Bakkerij. We were anxious that Pat should not overdo things, as she is still recovering from a mild stroke less than four months ago, so we suggested that we could take the train back to town from here. But she said she was keen to carry on and bike the whole length of the trail. What a trooper!

On our way back, we spotted a kārearea – a native NZ falcon – sitting on a rail below a bridge. We were very lucky that it stayed there long enough for John to take a photo of it, before it flew away.

A kārearea – a native NZ falcon. Check out those fearsome talons! (click to enlarge)
 (photo by John) 

As we arrived in Petone, we saw the East by West Harbour ferry at the wharf, and it occurred to us that it might be fun to go back to Wellington by ferry rather than by train. Unfortunately, by the time we got onto the wharf, it was just pulling away. When we checked the timetable on the wharf gate, it turned out that it wasn’t going straight back to Wellington anyway, but to Somes Island and Days Bay first, and only then to Seatoun and Wellington. But it would have been different …

The East by West Harbour ferry (photo by John)

We missed the ferry! (photo by Pat Reesby)

So we returned home by train. It had been a long ride, especially for Pat – 31 km. For us it was 36 km as we had to ride to Johnsonville station from home and back again. 

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