Monday 26 January 2015

Four early January rides

Well now, here we are in a new year, January is almost done and I have a bit of catching up to do. The holiday travelling is finished, bags unpacked, and travel stuff tidied away. We’ve been around a bit – Auckland for a family Christmas, Dunedin for a Scottish Country dancing summer school (just Désirée), and Christchurch for a guided cycle tour of the Mackenzie Country.

After mentioning, in earlier blog posts, the dreadful wet and windy start to summer, it has since turned into the most beautiful summer we have had for some years – sunny, hot and calm.

Between returning from Dunedin and going off on our Mackenzie tour, we managed four rides in the Wellington area.

Thursday 8 January 2015 – Waikanae to Peka Peka

Conscious of needing a bit more biking practice before we all went on our cycling tour, my sister Aimée picked us up in her station wagon (which has room for three folding bikes), to go up to Waikanae for a ride to Peka Peka and back. John and I rode the e-bikes (with the electric assist set to zero), and Aimée rode one of the original folders.

It was an easy ride to Peka Peka, including the track through the sand dunes parallel to Rutherford Drive. We stopped to have an early lunch at Harrison’s Garden Centre.

John and Désirée, in our “folding bike” T-shirts, at Harrison’s (photo by Aimée)

Our eldest daughter gave us very special presents for Christmas: T-shirts printed with the statement “good things are always unfolding” and drawings of a bike unfolding on the front, and our names and website addresses on the back. What an inspired idea – we were thrilled. This was their first outing.

Our ‘folding bike” T-shirts – back view (photo by Aimée)

On the return ride, we diverted into several new subdivisions off Peka Peka Road. There are beautiful homes here and very large sections. From the end of one of the roads, we were able to ride onto a track in the sand hills, which yielded some lovely views.

We stopped to say hello to some horses at one of the sections (photo by John)

Kapiti Island from the Peka Peka sand hills (photo by John)

Just before we got back to Waikanae, we diverted off Rutherford Drive into the Pharazyn Reserve. This used to be the local oxidation ponds, but the area has now been restored to become wetlands and a recreational area. A new feature that we hadn’t seen before on earlier stops here was a bird observation hut. I’m no expert on bird observation, but this hut seemed to be quite well appointed, with fixed seating and benches to lean your elbows on while training your binoculars onto the pond’s bird life.

John and Aimée at the bird observation hut in Pharazyn’s Reserve

It was a hot sunny day, and we were feeling quite overheated by the time we arrived back at the car. It was conveniently parked near the Long Beach Café, so we cooled off with a welcome iced coffee. We had biked 21 km.

Monday 12 January – Around our local suburbs

We went for an e-bike ride around our suburb and the next. The excuse had been to go down to the café on Middleton Road. After this we crossed the Westchester Bridge across the motorway to get to Paparangi and Newlands. There is a whole newly subdivided area to explore. It is a steep hillside, so the electric assist of the bikes got a good work-out.

We stopped at the supermarket in Johnsonville, and took the “back roads” (without too much traffic) home. We managed 15 km on this ride.

The end of Stebbings Road, Glenside. The road in the background is the relatively new
Westchester Drive (photo by John)

Wednesday 14 January – Wellington waterfront

We were quite late starting out on this ride – about 2:30pm. We parked at the far end of Oriental Parade, and the plan was to ride first to the city end, and then to the Miramar Wharf and back. It worked out a little different. It was warm and fine but with high cloud, just nicely warm, not too hot.

We used our original folding bikes, and it felt so good to ride mine. It is lighter and easier to manoeuvre than the e-bike. Somehow it just felt more natural and comfortable. I don’t think we will want to sell these “old” folders, really – it is nice to have the choice. John has reinstated the original gearing – since I now have the e-bike to ride up hills with, we can now just use the “old” bikes for riding on the flat.

We pedalled off towards the city end. Wellington’s waterfront is just gorgeous on a day like this. There were lots of people along Oriental Parade – people and children walking, biking, skateboarding and riding “Crocodile bikes”, and some just lounging about in the sunshine. We rode around the new Clyde Quay Wharf apartments – what a fabulous view they must have from their penthouses …

One end of the marina near Clyde Quay Wharf … (photo by John)

… and the boat harbour at the other end (photo by John)

We biked to the Westpac Stadium and rode up the ramp to the top of the concourse, and down the spiral walkway at the other end onto Thorndon Quay. From there we made our way to Hobson Street and Fitzherbert Terrace and back down to Thorndon Quay via a path used by the pupils of Queen Margaret College to get to the bus stop. This was a mite tricky, as there were a couple of flights of steps to negotiate, but we managed to manhandle the bikes down the sloping concrete edge.

We had planned to stop at Karaka Café for coffee, but by the time we got there, the café part of it was closed, and it was now just a “bar” and restaurant. So we pedalled along to Kaffee Eis on Oriental Parade, and enjoyed an ice-cream in the sun.

The bikes waiting patiently while I went across the road to get some ice creams (photo by John)

After that we were going to bike to the Miramar Wharf, but when we came around Point Jerningham, a little southerly and the shade from the hill made it unpleasant, so we went back to the car.

It was such a lovely afternoon that we weren’t ready to go home yet, so we took “the long way home”. John suggested we could go somewhere and have fish ’n chips. It was too early for dinner, so we parked in Seatoun and biked to Scorching Bay and back, and around the lovely wide tree-lined Seatoun streets.

Seatoun Wharf

Karaka Bay (photo by John)

At Scorching Bay there were several families flying kites in the gentle breeze. One that took our eye was a pretty fancy model, which looked like a galleon in full sail. We watched it being launched, and it flew very well.

A pretty fancy kite at Scorching Bay (photo by John)

Having now worked up an appetite, we got our fish and chips from what is now Huckle & Co in Seatoun. This shop used to be called “The Greasy Groper”, a somewhat off-putting name. I prefer its new image. The fish and chips were very nice, served in boxes in paper bags. More expensive than our local chippie, but the chips were crisper, and not as greasy. We pedalled down to the beach, and sat on a bench to eat, carefully watched by half a dozen hopeful and beady-eyed seagulls. They were out of luck though. We ate every last crumb.

Fish ‘n chips at Seatoun Beach (photo by John)

Then we biked around the streets some more and found a track at the Oruaiti Reserve. It was a narrow gravel track, which ended, for us, near some cliffs and rocks. The track carried on towards a beach and beyond, but it was not suitable for biking. On looking it up, I think it may end up at Breaker Bay.

The track in the Oruaiti Reserve (photo by John)

The beach where we could not continue with our bikes … (photo by John)

… and so we turned around. In the background is the road to Pencarrow

We then biked around a new subdivision on Fort Dorset and finally back to the car and home around the peninsula and the bays. We biked 24.5 km all up. A very nice afternoon.

Thursday 15 January – Otaki

My sister had to go to Otaki where she had stuff to do in the morning, and then again in the afternoon, leaving her with a few hours to kill with nothing much to do in between. I suggested a bike ride might be a good way to fill the time, so I drove up to meet her there with our two folding bikes. A good opportunity to explore Otaki Beach by bike.

We arranged to meet at the River Cottage Café, just north of the bridge at Otaki, and I had just ordered my coffee, when I got a text from her that she was on her way there. Excellent timing.

We had lunch in the garden of the café. We had both parked in the café carpark out the back, and we decided to leave the cars there (having asked if that was OK). We took the bikes to the road by the river, from where a track led both up river and down river.

The track by the Otaki River

The access to the down-river track was pretty rough, as the start of it leads to a quarry. We stayed close to the river, but the track petered out, and we climbed up a grassy slope to get to another track, parallel to the road to the quarry. We rode a short distance down this track, but it was rough gravel, and went up and down rather. It just didn’t look very enjoyable.

This is where we decided to turn around

We decided to ride down Riverbank Road and along to Otaki Beach instead. The road was quiet and had a good shoulder most of the way. We rode down Old Coach Road, and Atkinson Ave, to Marine Parade.

There were some lovely gardens to look at, and beautiful flowers to photograph along the way. Some cardoons, a type of thistle with huge flowers, drew Aimée’s attention, while I was especially taken by a tree smothered in morning glory – which is considered to be a noxious weed in New Zealand, but I absolutely love the colour of its flowers.

Amazingly huge cardoon flower (Cynara cardunculus)

I loved the colours of the morning glory (Ipomoea indica)

We stopped briefly at the beach and took a few pictures, before returning to the café, where we arrived all hot and sweaty, and cooled down with an iced coffee. We had ridden 12 km, which was about as much as Aimée wanted to do.

Kapiti Island from Otaki Beach

Spinifex is a very common plant in the sand dunes along New Zealand’s coast

On the way back we met a large group of children on horseback on a pony club outing

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