Monday, 11 April 2016

Waikanae to Peka Peka


On Wednesday 6 April, we had an early-ish start and took the train up to Waikanae. The plan was to bike to Peka Peka to have lunch at Harrisons, then bike back.

Before heading towards the Waikanae River track, we stopped briefly by the shopping centre for John to adjust the latest version of his backward-facing camera. He had made a new bracket so he could mount his iPhone at the back of his saddle. He wanted to be able to control switching it on or off while riding, which he achieved by using a remote-control cable. But the cable was a bit reluctant to stay put. It worked for some of the time, and then it didn’t. But he still got some useful photos from it.

John adjusts the latest version of his backward-facing camera

We joined the river track on the north bank, then crossed to the south bank on the Te Arawai footbridge. The track on the south side is easier to ride on than the opposite bank, as that goes through private land enclosed by annoying barriers that will admit cyclists and walkers but not trail bikes or motorbikes.

The track on the south side of the river (photo by John)

However, our progress was thwarted when we arrived at the construction site for the Kapiti Expressway. An enormous crawler crane and crew were in the process of lifting a huge, 150-tonne bridge beam into place. Obviously a delicate manoeuvre, so the track, which usually diverts around the site, was closed.

The 400-tonne crawler crane …

… lifts a 150-tonne beam into place

We watched proceedings for a little while, but there wasn’t anything very exciting going on, so we turned around to go back to the foot bridge.

On the Te Arawai footbridge (photo by John)

There was actually a sign by the footbridge, telling us that the track was closed further along, but it was angled in such a way that we didn’t notice it as we crossed from north to south. However, we did see it, too late, when we returned and continued on the north bank.

We missed this sign the first time (click to enlarge)

The private land through which the track goes belongs to the Kapiti Equestrian Centre, and at one end there is a low barrier that you have to step over. It is only two steps high, but that’s just enough to make lifting a 24 kg e-bike over it into a two-person effort. Then you have to negotiate a very narrow zig-zag gate.

Some of the track is very pleasant, but some of it is a very skinny rut across grass, which is not so nice. We rode on the grass next to it to avoid getting stuck.

The track past the riding centre is very pleasant

At the other end of the private land, there is a different barrier, consisting of a beam at chest height and a stile to get over it, if you don’t want to go underneath it. A regular bike would be just too tall to go under it, but we were able to fold down our handle bars, and wheel the bikes through the gap.

Fold down the handle bar …

… and wheel the bike through

The track goes close to El Rancho, a complex used for school camps. We saw a group of kids and adults decked out in flotation vests and carrying inner tubes, presumably just coming back from, or heading to, some tubing on the shallow and benign Waikanae River.

Heading for some tubing on the Waikanae River (photo by John)

From the end of the river track, we made our way on Waikanae roads towards Peka Peka, where we had lunch at Harrisons Garden Centre.

Along William Street (photo by John)

After lunch we returned to Waikanae Station on the road, rather than the track. It had been a pleasant, undemanding 33 km ride. We had to wait for about 20 minutes before the train arrived from Wellington, and then a further five or so minutes after we had got on, before it departed.

Waiting at the station

Trying to blend into the background (photo by John)


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