Monday, 22 January 2018

Ohariu Valley to Porirua

On Friday 19 January, John suggested going for a ride through Ohariu Valley, down to the end of the public road, up to the ridge on the access road that was constructed for transporting the wind turbines of Mill Creek Wind Farm, then behind Spicers landfill to Porirua and to Gear Café for lunch, and then home.

On the whole it was a pretty successful ride. We weren’t sure if the access road was open for use other than for servicing the windmills, but we gave it a go. We left from home, biking up the hill and onto Ohariu Road.

From the junction where Ohariu Road becomes Ohariu Valley Road, it was a long, winding downhill into the bottom of the valley.

Ohariu Valley Road winds down into the valley (photo by John)

Before we got to the intersection with Rifle Range Road and Takarau Gorge Road, we met Alastair Smith (of Folding Goldies fame) going the other way. We stopped to talk. It was good to see him, as he had not been able to make it to our last Folding Goldies ride in November, because he wasn’t well. Today he had come into Ohariu from the Karori end, and was biking to Johnsonville, and planning to go down the Ngauranga Gorge.

The camera (on time-lapse) on John’s bike took this photo of us talking to Alastair

At the crossroads, we turned right, and followed the valley road till the end. The valley is really pretty. The road undulates up and down, and is really quiet – only two cars passed us.

Ohariu Valley Road (photo by John)

We stopped for John to swap his time-lapse camera from the front to the back of his bike
because of the angle of the light (photo by John)

John’s T-shirt blends perfectly with the colour of the road.
He should have worn a hi-viz vest

We rode past the riding school – unfortunately the Saddleback Café is only open on weekends now – and at the end of the road, we found a big gate across the Mill Creek access road, but there was a gate designed to let cyclists and walkers through.

The Mill Creek access road

It is a very wide road which was constructed especially to transport the components of the wind turbines of the Mill Creek Wind Farm from the Porirua end. The wind farm became fully operational in November 2014. There are 26 windmills on the hills, but they are not visible from here. There is an interesting video about Mill Creek on this website

The access road is very steep to begin with till you get to the top of the ridge. It is sealed for the first 100 meters (presumably to stop heavy loads skidding down the hill), and then it turns to gravel, but it wasn’t too bad to ride on.

The start of the access road was very steep (photo by John)

Once we got to the top of the ridge, the road was more or less flat, winding through forest and scrub. We got views across to Granada at one point.

Once on the ridge, the road wound along more or less on the flat (photo by John)
A view towards Granada (photo by John)

“The long and winding road …” (photo by John)

As we got closer to the Spicers landfill, we got the occasional whiff of it on the breeze. We checked out a flat area and found that there was a narrow track coming up from below, marked with a Te Araroa signpost. (Te Araroa is the walking track that stretches the length of New Zealand, from the top of the North to the tip of the South.) 

Close to the landfill, a gate prevented access through to Trash Palace on Broken Hill Road, and we had to divert around it on a narrow grassy track, that went for quite a long way.

From here we had to divert onto the narrow grassy track on the right

The dirt track was narrow and in places could have been bikeable – if we had been mountain bikers – but mindful of a couple of recent spills on dodgy tracks, we decided on the cautious approach, and walked most of the way.

We took the careful approach and walked (photo by John)

This short stretch was wider, and we were able to bike here … (photo by John)

… but this was definitely not bikeable – not in our book anyway …

A surprise encounter with Gandalf on the crest of a hill. We don’t know what this structure was for
(photo by John)

The track didn't come out where we expected it to. Eventually we had the choice of right or left – I think left would have taken us to Elsdon, but on the right we could see houses, so we knew there would be a road there. It was Chastudon Place, at the top of Tawa/Linden. When we got to the bottom of the hill, we ended up near the roundabout to Collins Ave.

Heading back to civilisation

From there we biked to the Gear Homestead Café. Te Ara Tawa, which had been partially closed off for several months because of the construction of a bridge for the Transmission Gully highway, was now open again.

The section of a Transmission Gully bridge has been installed,
allowing Te Ara Tawa to be opened again

It’s obviously not finished, but the main beams are in place

Looking impressive (photo by John)

From Te Ara Tawa, we went under the Porirua station and the motorway, and found that there is a new track into Aotea from there, so we rode up it, and rode around new streets – as yet unbuilt up – and then down to Gear Homestead.

There are some great murals in the Porirua station underpass (photo by John)

The newest streets in the Aotea subdivision (photo by John)

We had a pleasant lunch at the Gear Café, under a brolly on the path side of the building.

Lunch under the umbrella (photo by John)

We watched a wedding party taking photos in the grounds. They all looked gorgeous, the attendants in long deep red dresses, the groomsmen in smart suits. When they got ready to leave, four fancy big American classic cars, with bridal ribbons on, drove up. Very nice.

A wedding party was moving around the gardens to take photos (photo by John)

The wedding party prepares to leave in classic American cars (photo by John)

For the ride home, to get from Tawa to Churton Park, we had to bike down Middleton Road. Normally, when we bike Te Ara Tawa, we park at Takapu Road station, to avoid having to bike on Middleton Road. But it was OK, as going south, that side has a shoulder of sorts most of the way. It did add an extra 5.5 km to our ride.

There is a reasonable shoulder heading south on Middleton Road (photo by John)

Our total for the day was 35.5 km. It was a good ride, and it was nice to explore somewhere new.


  1. Desire, at the point where you had a choice, left or right, left would have taken you on to a well formed cycle track, that zig zags very gently down the side of the hill to join Broken Hill Road at the park just before the Landfill. I haven't cycled it yet, but it was a long boring walk back and to across the hill side, it would be great on a bike - definitely not single track and very rideable downhill or up. A short downhill road ride would take you down to Kenepuru from there. A great through route from Porirua to J'ville! Dave Glover

  2. Hi Dave, thanks for that. We will explore that some other time. But there is no other way around the landfill than the grass track.