Tuesday 24 November 2015


Thursday 19 November felt like summer had arrived – well, nearly. It was a gorgeous day, but still a little cool. We drove to Waikanae, where we parked – as usual – in the Otaihanga Domain.

We biked around the Waimanu Lagoon, where a class of children was being taught to sail little yachts (sorry, I don’t know the correct name for this size of craft). Conditions were perfect, with just a little breeze.

Half a dozen children at a time are learning to sail (photo by John)

Monday 23 November 2015

Porirua to Pukerua

Last Monday, 16 November, we went for a ride from Porirua to Pukerua and around about. We parked in Parumoana Street, and got onto the walking/cycle path that would take us across the motorway and towards Aotea. But first the track went underneath the motorway on-ramp, and there we struck a hitch. The tide was in, and the Porirua Stream was running high enough to cover the lowest part of the path. We weren’t sure how deep the water was, so we made a u-turn, and backtracked a bit so that we could cross the road above. When we returned later in the afternoon, the water had receded, but there was a drowned rabbit where the water had been. Good thing we didn’t try to ford the water earlier.

The Porirua Stream is tidal, and the tide was in (photo by John)

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Folding Goldies ride – Whiteman’s Valley

On Friday 6 November we went on another Folding Goldies ride. Originally the ride was to have taken place on the Wednesday, but the forecast for that day was so horrible – rain and gale force southerlies – that we decided to postpone until Friday. It was a good call.

Wednesday was truly dreadful. I felt sorry for Prince Charles and Camilla, who arrived in Wellington, in a howling southerly gale and freezing driving rain, for a week-long official visit to New Zealand. Poor Camilla, who apparently fears flying, having to land in a Wellington gale! Anyone who has ever flown into Wellington on a windy day knows what a bumpy landing that can be. And not only that, but hardly anybody was interested in their visit, as NZ was still much more preoccupied with the return of the All Blacks from their exciting Rugby World Cup win. They were being feted in a victory parade in Auckland, and most of Wellington’s general public would have been glued to their TV sets watching the All Blacks and not the royals.

By contrast, Friday was a beautiful day – sunny, mild and just a very light breeze. Perfect for a bike ride. The plan was to take the train up to Wallaceville (just before Upper Hutt) and from there, ride up Wallaceville Road into Whiteman’s Valley.

Wednesday 4 November 2015

Martinborough Charity Fun Ride

Last weekend, on Sunday 1 November, we took part in the Martinborough Charity Fun Ride. I had heard about this yearly event from a friend, Karen, who had taken part in it last year, and was doing it again this year. 

I looked up the website, and thought it looked like an interesting challenge for us. I checked the regulations, and found that electric bikes were allowed. But seeing the photos of all these impressive looking cyclists in lycra, I had a few questions, so I fired off an email to the organiser, Graham Evans, asking him “is it only for seasoned cyclists in lycra and all the flash gear, or is it OK for a couple of reasonably fit seniors, in baggy trousers, on e-bikes to take part?”.

The answer came quickly: “The ride is definitely for anyone and you would be very welcome and I am sure you would enjoy it. And there are lots of riders not in lycra although we would love to sell you one of our mcfr jerseys”.

We hummed and ha’ed for a while. John thought that since it seemed to be a race (there were time rankings of previous years’ events on the website), it wasn’t really our style of biking. We like to take our time, enjoy our surroundings, take photos and stop for a coffee somewhere along the way.

Still, the idea niggled, and with a day to go, and an excellent weather forecast, we registered as late entrants for the 48 km ride. The other options were for 67 km or 115 km. We figured we would be quite capable of doing the 48 km option, as we have done that distance, and more, on other occasions, without difficulties.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Tawa to Plimmerton

On a fine Saturday last week (24 October), we biked from Tawa to Plimmerton and back. We again parked at Takapu Road railway station. John suggested we could bike from home, but I am still a bit worried about biking on Middleton Road (see postscript below), which has either a very narrow shoulder or none at all, and there is a reasonable amount of car traffic using that road with the speed limit being 70 km/hr on the most winding part!

We biked the same route as we had a couple of weeks earlier, taking time to linger near the Mana Marina area for a bit. We discovered that recently, a garden area near the yacht jetties had been “embellished” by the display of a number of colourful garden gnomes – one of them, gruesomely, lying face down with a knife in his back!

Miscellaneous rides

Here I am. I need to do some catching up.

We did a couple of rides without taking any photos. One was a local “errands ride”, to the Resene shop in Johnsonville, then to our local café in Middleton Road, and home via the supermarket. Not very exciting, but good to be able to do these things without using the car.

Tawa to Mana

On Sunday 11 October, we started out from Takapu Road station. Being a weekend, there was plenty of parking there. We biked on Te Ara Tawa, beside the railway line and through Linden to Porirua. The only photo we took was of a little waterfall in the Porirua Stream, where a shag (cormorant) was sunning itself on a rock.You'll need to click on the photo to enlarge it if you want to see the shag ...

Porirua Stream near the Linden sportsground (photo by John)

We carried on towards Aotea, past the Aotea Lagoon and the Police College. Across the footbridge at the Paremata railway station, and on towards Mana, where we stopped for lunch at Café Ruby. It was a sunny afternoon and the café was busy, so we were there for quite a while.

Back the way we came, and at the new subdivision of Aotea, we decided to explore the new streets for a bit. We are looking to have our house re-roofed and painted, so we were interested to see the various treatments and colour schemes in the new houses. We also stopped and looked into a couple of the half dozen show homes that were open for viewing. Very nice!

We did about 32 km on this ride.

                                                  * * * * * * * * * * * *

Miramar Peninsula

On Tuesday 20 October, a lovely calm day, we decided to do another ride to the Ataturk Memorial, high up on the Miramar Peninsula. We parked the car at Greta Point, and biked around Evans Bay and Cobham Drive to Miramar, from where we headed uphill. Last time we got ourselves a bit confused and had trouble finding Bowes Crescent from where we could get access to the Ataturk Memorial. No such problems today.

The memorial reserve sits on a steep promontory above Tarakena Bay, looking out to Cook Strait. On a bright sunny day like this, its white cylinder stands out sharply against the blue sea.

The Ataturk Memorial looks out over Cook Strait (photo by John)

At the memorial (photo by John)

The last time we were up here, there was a terrific southerly swell, and the waves created a chevron of foam as they rolled in from both sides onto the rocks off the headland. This time, however, the view was peaceful and we revelled in the beautiful colours of the water.

The seas around the rocks were beautifully calm (photo by John)

After an interesting chat with a couple from Auckland, we biked down the wide track to Moa Point Road, and rode around the peninsula to Breaker Bay. We stopped at the carpark near the beach for a closer look at the rocks. In the distance we could see Steeple Rock, which is near where the Interisland ferry Wahine sank in 1968.

The rocks at Breaker Bay, with Steeple Rock in the top one-third of the photo (photo by John)

Looking across the harbour entrance to the Pencarrow Lighthouse.
You can see Barrett Reef – the cause of the sinking of the Wahine (photo by John)

After the Pass of Branda – which sounds worse than it is – we rode through the suburb of Seatoun, round Worser Bay, and to Scorching Bay, where we had lunch at the Scorch-O-Rama Café.

A pleasant ride around the rest of the peninsula took us back to our car. We had done 26 km.

Sunday 1 November 2015

Ohariu – Makara – Karori

Oh dear, I haven’t written up any of the rides we have done over the last month! Must get on with it.

On Wednesday 30 September, the day after our Petone to Eastbourne ride, it was still fine, and the forecast for the next few days was not very nice, so we had to make the most of it. We decided on Ohariu Valley, to Makara, and back through Karori. It was lovely, and quiet, only a couple of cars went past.

In the Takarau Gorge we were amazed at the grassy debris hanging in the fence between the road and the stream below. It looked like the stream must have risen to well above road level in the last lot of heavy rains.

Flood debris from the stream below hangs in the fences (photo by John)

When we got to the Makara turn-off, we tried to go up to the West Wind Recreation Park (where the windmills are). There was a sign at the bottom of the road saying the park was closed due to lambing, and would be opened again on 1 October. Well, it was 30 September today, only one day to go! Surely that would not be such a big deal? Stickler John thought we should not go up. But pragmatic me, I reckoned one day would not make any difference. So up the VERY steep road we went. However, we came to a locked gate, with the same message. Aww, darn, too bad!

Taking a breather on the very steep road up to the West Wind Recreation Park (photo by John)

Closed for lambing!

The way back down was great! (photo by John)

So we pedalled on towards Makara Beach, which was deserted. We couldn’t even get an ice cream at the shop/café, as it was closed. Along the way, John spotted a trio of men sitting in camping chairs by the stream. I guess they were probably whitebaiting, but maybe they were just having a companionable chinwag in the sun, away from “her indoors”.

Enjoying the sunshine (photo by John)

Makara Beach (photo by John)

So on towards Makara village and the hill back to Karori. Just at the edge of the beach settlement, I noticed a fence that had been decorated with masses of paua shells. The letterbox in the shape of a cottage completed the rustic effect. 

A paua fence

We made a brief “chocolate” stop at the cemetery by the little church, then tackled the hill. It is quite a climb, and I was looking forward to the descent into Karori. But when we were nearly at the top, John decided to investigate the Skyline Walkway. The sign said “Access to Karori Park”. That’s where we were planning to have lunch, wasn’t it, so why don’t we go down here?

I had reservations about the track. Is it suitable for bikes? John’s comment, “You won't know till you try it”. It started out OK, wide and not too steep.

The beginning of the track looked OK … (photo by John)

We asked a couple of women who were coming up the path, and they said it would be OK. Stupid women! It wasn’t OK, far from it! It was terrible! Very soon it became very narrow, and steep, and rough - lots of tree roots, rocks and hollows.

… then it started to deteriorate

We had to walk and manhandle the bikes over roots, rocks and hollows! (photo by John)

And some of the time we had to push the bikes uphill!

We had to walk the bikes, which was hard to do as they were heavy to hold back, when they wanted to roll down the steep slope. Unbelievably, we met a mountain biker - young, bearded and fit, and patently, bonkers! - who was BIKING UP the track! He waited patiently in a wider bit of the track to let us stumble past, before haring up the hill again. We asked how much further it was to the bottom, and he said this was about half-way. Oh, cripes! We struggled on, and eventually made it down to the park, and the café. Phew! We won't be doing that track again!

After lunch at the busy café - lots of mothers with kids, as it was the school holidays - we biked through the backroads of Karori, through Wilton and on to Crofton Downs. There we took the train back to Johnsonville, as I didn't want to bike through Ngaio and Khandallah, or struggle up any more hills. By the time we got home (we biked from Johnsonville, of course) we had done 39 km - quite enough for one day, especially since we had done 33 km the day before!