Tuesday 9 December 2014

Hawke’s Bay trip – Day 2

On our second day in Hawke’s Bay, Sunday 30 November, we decided to drive to Tarradale, and planned to bike the “Water Ride” from there to the Snapper Café, via the estuary wetlands, then come back and have lunch at the Mission Estate. And if we still had energy after that, we could perhaps do the Puketapu Loop. But it didn’t quite work out like that.

We parked by the EIT Sports Centre, on Gloucester Street, and rode up the road towards Church Road.

Church Road (photo by John)

When we rode past the Mission Estate driveway, I thought we should go in and book a table for lunch, as I would expect it to be quite busy on a Sunday. So we powered up the steep drive – yay! for level 5 assist! – and booked a table for 12:30 pm.

I think this is where our problems started. We should have either booked for a later time, or not have booked at all, because we weren’t able to do what we planned in the time available before 12:30.

With a bit of confusion (there is no sign posting), we found our way to the estuary ride. This part of the ride is really lovely. It took us along a small waterway – a stream or just wetland – and eventually we arrived at the estuary itself, but the track dipped down below the stopbank. It meant we were a bit more sheltered from the horrendous wind, but it also meant we couldn’t actually see the estuary.

The start of the estuary ride (photo by John)

Near the bend in the track, there was a look-out tower. I went up to take a photo of the view, and found three young people there, sitting on the floor – one of them moaning in a odd sort of way. I was surprised to find them there. I wondered if they were high on something, so I beat a quick retreat, and we continued on our ride.

The look-out tower – with hidden occupants … (photo by John)

View from the look-out

After a while we were able to see the larger waterway, and a bit further along there was a bird viewing area. It was protected by a fence, but it had an attractive information board on it, providing details about the types of birds that could be seen from there, and viewing holes to see what was beyond.

The estuary (photo by John)

Peering at the wetlands (photo by John)

The other end of the information board

We rode across a little bridge over what appeared to be a sluice gate. The track beyond that was quite narrow, and very close to the water’s edge. It went around a point under a road bridge. And then we ended up on another bridge alongside.

John crosses the bridge over a sluice gate. The two road bridges are in the distance on the left
(click to enlarge)

The track across the old road bridge (photo by John)

The track went across the old road bridge – now no longer carrying motorised traffic – and a railway line ran alongside it. The new road bridge was further over to the left of us. It was a nice smooth, straight road on which we – with childish delight – cranked up our e-bikes to level 5, and raced each other to the end. Yeehaaa!

After this, we weren't sure as to where we should go from here. We knew we wanted to go to the left, on the loop that would take us past the airport, but there seemed to be nowhere to turn left. We came to a built-up area, with a sign pointing towards Westshore, and so we ended up taking a sharp right turn instead.

Here I’d like to do a bit of a grizzle about the lack of sign posting. The Hawke’s Bay Regional Council puts out a great map of all the cycling tracks of the area and an excellent brochure with this map and further information. So why don’t they provide signs that relate to the map? It would be great if at “confusion points” there were signs pointing the way to, say, the “Water Ride” or the “Orange Trail”. That would make life so much easier for out-of-towners.

Time was marching on and we were mindful of the fact that we had booked lunch for 12:30. We decided we probably didn’t have time to do the loop to Snapper Café and back by then, so we headed to Westshore and a coffee break there instead.

A sailing school about to take off from Westshore

How the other half lives … John was rather taken with this limousine (photo by John)

After our coffee we had to find our way back to Church Road. We looked for the quickest way to get across to Prebensen Drive and Church Road, but what a hassle to find our way! I suggested that according to the map, we should be able to go in a direct line from the i-Site to Prebensen Drive. But I misinterpreted the map, and we ended up having to go through the Napier shopping area, and then zig and zag our way through various streets to get to Church Road. I reminded John to never again trust my map reading skills! In the end, we had to rely on his innate sense of direction (which is something I totally lack!).

The Christmas tree decorators obligingly waved when I pointed my camera at them ...

... and she was waving too! This lovely Art Deco lady is in the middle of the Napier shopping area
(photo by John)

We made it to the Mission Estate at just the right time. Phew! I had been right to book, as it was very busy, with most of the tables occupied. We enjoyed a delicious lunch with a nice glass of wine, of course.

Mission Estate Restaurant. There were no tables or umbrellas on the lawn because of the strong wind (photo by John)
The Mission Estate vines

Our bikes parked outside the Mission (photo by John)

After lunch we decided not to ride the Puketapu Loop as that would add another 20 odd kilometres to today’s tally, and we’d had a long enough ride the day before (62 km). Rather than returning to our car by the main roads, we found a lovely track that meandered between the road and a stream. It didn’t take us all the way back, but we got there eventually.

A nice meandering track to get back to the car (photo by John)

Our distance for the day was 37.5 km. It had been a nice ride, though somewhat frustrating – partly because of the lack of time, and partly because of the lack of sign posting. Mental note: take along a Napier/Hastings city map next time!

And the wind was quite tiresome. We were glad of the electric assistance of our bikes. Note that e-bikes don't do all the work for us. We still have to do the pedalling. If your legs stop moving the pedals, the electric motor stops too. But being able to boost the output against the wind is great!

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