Wednesday, 7 April 2021

A trip to Hawke’s Bay

Before I start on my story about our Hawke’s Bay trip, please note my updated distances biked (in red, on the left side of this page) – over 10,200 km! Since the last update, in November 2019, I have biked about 1,500 km on my e-bike, so we haven’t been completely slacking.

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On Saturday 7 November 2020, we planned to attend a Scottish country dance evening in Carterton, and we decided to follow it with a few days in Hawke’s Bay, since we would already be halfway there, and we hadn’t been anywhere to bike since seemingly forever! At least since the lockdown.

We left Wellington in the morning, and once over ‘the hill’, we had a great browse in the second-hand bookshops in Featherston, which is becoming a destination for book-a-holics, it seems. We scored a couple of books each – which came in handy later in the weekend, as it turned out …

We had a very leisurely lunch in Greytown, and then headed for our accommodation. I had managed to book what I think may have been the last available room in the Wairarapa. There was a Garden Tour on that weekend, which obviously had attracted a lot of out-of-towners.

I had planned for us to bike the Woodside Trail in the afternoon, but John wasn’t feeling the best and didn’t really want to bike, so I went on my own. Our motel was only a few streets away from the entrance to the trail, so off I set – map in hand. We had been there before, so I knew more or less where I had to go. But my sense of direction is hopeless – I still managed to overshoot the turn-off, and arrived at a dead-end, that was obviously not the right place. I back-tracked, and found my way to the start of the trail.


Entrance to the Woodside Trail

We biked this trail when we first started biking again in 2013, and it had only recently been opened. At that time, an early part of the trail had just been planted, and what looked like mere sticks on each side of the path, are now beautiful trees. 


This is what it looked like in August 2013 …

… and this is how the trees look now

Part of the trail is lined with magnificent old oak trees, which apparently were planted when this trail was a railway track. Their timber was to have been used for the sleepers. Fortunately it didn’t come to that, as the line was closed in 1953.  


Some of the track meanders between rows of old oak trees

I am not as prolific a photographer as John, so I didn’t take too many pictures, but I did take this photo of a gnarly old tree trunk.


What a gorgeous old tree

The track ends at the Woodside railway station. I noticed that the old goods shed, that had been abandoned and was in quite a sorry state with weeds growing inside and creepers climbing over it when we saw it in 2013, had now been restored and looked quite respectable – though not nearly as photogenic. 


The old goods shed in 2013 (photo by John)

I wanted to know when this restoration had been done, and looked for information online. I found an article in the NZ Herald, reporting its official opening in November 2015. 

Interestingly, during my search, I found this websitewritten in 2020, which, in some places, uses the exact same sentences that I wrote in my 2013 blog post. Well, it’s good to know that someone has found my blog interesting enough to quote me (or plagiarise my words), even if it’s not acknowledged …

Having biked to the end of the trail and back, I enjoyed riding through some of Greytown’s quiet back streets with their beautiful gardens. It was spring, the sun was shining, and the fragrance of jasmine and honeysuckle was everywhere. I would have liked to explore some more, but I thought John might get worried if I stayed out too long.

That evening, I went to the dance without John, who was still not feeling up to anything strenuous. But I had a great time anyway, as there were lots of people there that I knew.

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The next day, Sunday, we woke to torrential rain. We watched as a bunch of middle-aged ladies, who were obviously there for the Garden Tour, started to pack up their van, ready for a day of traipsing through soggy gardens. I felt sorry for them – a Garden Tour that they had probably looked forward to for weeks, and then it had to rain!

We set off towards Hastings, and the rain had eased when we got to Woodville. We stopped for coffee and a wander around a most amazing “2nd hand Antiques” shop. Huge, and incredible ‘collections’ of stuff – innumerable salt and pepper sets, old glass bottles, fancy glassware, tools, doorknobs, and odds and sods, all very neatly displayed and categorised and labelled.


An incredible place to browse through

John admires the neatly organised hardware bits and bobs

By the time we got to Hastings, the sun was shining again, and we found our way to the cottage we were staying in, on an orchard property, at Tukituki Flat. 


The cottage at Tukituki Flat

The view from the cottage

The owner welcomed us and told us that the riverside cycle trail ran just past their gate. Being aware that it would be raining again some time later that day, we thought we might go for a bike ride that afternoon. But while we were still having our coffee, we heard rumbling thunder in the distance, and before long, it started to rain. In fact, it was quite a thunder storm – flashes of lightning, thunder and heavy rain.

The rain did not last too long, and at 6:30 we set out towards Havelock North in search of some dinner. Our cottage, at Tukituki, was about half-way between Black Bridge (near Clive) and Red Bridge (near Havelock North). Havelock was more or less across the Tukituki River from us, but we had to drive to one of the bridges to get across – quite a distance. At the end of Moore Road, we turned right, towards Red Bridge. We had biked here on our very first cycling trip, with the original (non-electric) folders. That was a 50 km ride, up and down hills. Now, driving that route, I was amazed that I had actually biked that on a non-e bike back then. It went on for miles, and it was up and down, and up and down! Very pretty countryside, but wow!

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Monday - It rained all night, and it was still raining when we got up. So we drove to Napier and went to the Museum. We enjoyed looking at some very interesting exhibitions – one about the 1931 earthquake, a good Māori section, some art collections, and a quirky exhibit about the Māori alphabet, which I really enjoyed.

After the Museum, we had planned to go into town to browse the shops and have lunch, but it was still hosing down, and we didn’t want to wander around town getting wet, so we headed back to the cottage, where we spent a pleasant afternoon reading the books we’d got in Featherston, while the rain kept on coming down.

We thought we might cut our losses and head home the next day. If it was still going to be raining, there would be no biking, so no point in hanging around.

In the evening we saw on TV that the relentless rain had caused serious flooding in parts of Napier. Floods, slips, cars floating around in the streets, power cuts, flooded houses, leaking roofs, and people having to be evacuated out of their homes. Napier had more than more than four times the November average rainfall in one day – 237 mm! A good thing we didn’t stay in town! 

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Tuesday – Surprise, surprise! We woke to a beautiful day, not a cloud in sight. So we did not pack up and go home. Instead, we went for a bike ride, leaving at 8:30 am! We took our parkas in a panier – just in case it decided to rain again, but they were not needed. We got onto the trail at the end of the driveway. Through orchards, past vineyards, and fields planted in beautiful rows with something I could not identify – pumpkins perhaps? 


Beautiful rows of vegetables (photo by John)

The track took us through several gates, where there were puddles – John put his foot in the middle of one, without even noticing it, until I mentioned it! The track itself seemed not to have suffered from the deluge of the previous day. The lime sand seems to drain well. As we got closer to the coast, and the wetlands, there were flooded paddocks.


There were puddles near the gates, but not many on the tracks (photo by John)

Flooded paddocks (photo by John)

We came to the wetlands leading to Haumoana, and rode along the foreshore, through Te Awanga, and ended up at Clifton, at the start of the Cape Kidnappers beach track – which is now not useable because of some serious cliff collapses onto the beach a few years ago.


Cape Kidnappers (photo by John)

The view towards Napier (photo by John)

We stopped for coffee and scones at the café. It was lovely, sunny and warm, though John chose to sit in the shade of a brolly.    


Coffee and scones at Café Hygge
The view from the café (photo by John)

After a pleasant break, we returned to the cottage the way we had come. We were back at the cottage by midday, having biked 34 km.


John liked these drifts of purple weeds – Viper’s bugloss, I think (photo by John)

The driveway to the cottage (photo by John) 

Back at the cottage, the view of the Tukituki River was quite changed from two days ago – the water level was much higher, and came further up the banks, and it ran much more swiftly, as a result of all that rain.


Impressive clouds were building up again in the afternoon (photo by John)

We spent the afternoon reading, and the next day, we headed home. It had been a nice break, despite all the rain.


  1. what? no stops for ice cream!! you are slipping!

  2. 🤣 Cheeky! You must be a friend of Elaine's!

  3. Shame about the weather but looks like you had a good trip and some fun rides. Impressed with those kilometres that you have pedalled.

    1. Thanks Cliff. I'm impressed by your Northland exploits - on a non-e bike!