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!

Garden gnomes embellish a garden corner (photo by John)

At the Mana Marina (photo by John)

After the Ngati Toa Domain, the track to Plimmerton runs between the railway line and the rocky shore, and in the lee of the headland, there is a nice small beach.

The rocky shore, looking towards Hongoeka Bay (photo by John)

The beach at the northern end of the Ngati Toa Domain (photo by John)

At Plimmerton, we stopped at The Big Salami, a nice little café by the roundabout, where they do a mean pizza. We thoroughly enjoyed sharing a small one for lunch. I can recommend the "Italian". It was delicious.

Then we carried on to the end of the road, past Karehana Bay. The last house on this road always has a shop mannequin in the window, dressed in some interesting outfit. This time, with the country gripped by Rugby World Cup fever and the approaching final, it was clad in All Black gear, and carrying a rugby ball. Most New Zealanders were expecting the All Blacks to win – and of course they did! Thank goodness, or the whole country would have gone into mourning!

Note the mannequin in All Black gear in the window of the house in the background!
(click to enlarge) (photo by John)

John suggested riding up Airlie Road to Te Ara Harakeke (the track to Pukerua Bay). Having biked up Airlie Road from the Pukerua end, I knew that it was a lo-o-ng downhill from the top of the hill. So I wasn’t about to let myself in for a lo-o-ong uphill in the other direction. Although I don’t mind hills quite so much when I am riding an e-bike, I am still not keen to tackle them when I can avoid them!

So home we headed, meandering around the Ngati Toa Domain and the yacht harbour again. We found an interesting catamaran tied up at the wharf, decorated in Melanesian (?) designs. I thought it was the same craft we had seen in Napier last year. But that was incorrect, that one had been decorated in Māori designs.

The Uto ni Yalo had just returned from Bougainville (photo by John)

The traditional vessel Uto ni Yalo was equipped with modern solar panels (photo by John)

A man nearby, who overheard us, said that this was the Uto ni Yalo. He told us that it had just returned from Bougainville, with a tonne of cocoa beans on board for local chocolate company, the Wellington Chocolate Factory

When I checked out this company’s website, I found out more about the voyage of the cocoa beans, and was intrigued to learn that the load was going to be carried to the factory in the most sustainable way. Not by truck, but by the crew of Bicycle Junction (which specialises, among others, in cargo bikes). How wonderful is that! 

Finally, we headed home past the Porirua Stream, where John took a picture of a small colony of seagulls bathing in the water. Others, having finished their “toilette”, were sitting on the bank sunning themselves. The photo shows how shallow the stream is in benign conditions.

Seagulls in the shallow Porirua Stream (photo by John)

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Later that week, John – to prove a point – biked from home to Aotea and back on his e-bike. He rode on Middleton Road, and found that it was OK to cycle on. The traffic was not too bad, but he found his rear view mirror invaluable, especially at the end closest to Tawa, as the shoulder disappears altogether.

Hopefully the recent addition of cycle lanes through Johnsonville will be extended to improve Middleton Road too. After all, this is the only route that cycling commuters can travel from Porirua into Wellington, as they are not allowed to use the motorway. It is also the only entrance to Wellngton for cycle tourists coming down SH1.

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