Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Te Awa River Ride – Hamilton to Horotiu

After Queen’s Birthday Weekend, during which I attended a Scottish Country Dancing weekend school in Cambridge, John and I biked a couple of sections of the Te Awa River Ride

On the Tuesday, we biked the section from Cambridge to Karapiro, which you can read about here

The next day, Wednesday 8 June, we biked the other easy section of this track – from central Hamilton to Horotiu. I understand that the planned extension of the track to Ngaruawahia is expected to be completed later in 2016.

We drove into Hamilton, expecting to park in Bader Street, as indicated on a leaflet we picked up at the i-Site. However, it was a very isolated spot, and there were no other cars parked there, so we opted to park in the nearby Hamilton Gardens carpark instead.

This was on the opposite side of the Waikato River from where we wanted to be, so we first had to cross on the Cobham Drive Bridge.

Cobham Drive Bridge – not the most attractive of bridges (photo by John)

As on the opposite bank, where we had biked two days earlier, the track was paved in small square tiles, and pleasantly wide. It meandered through attractive park-like surroundings, and past the Waikato Dragon Boat and Waka Ama Club, where outrigger canoes – waka ama – were stacked in a somewhat awkward looking pile. 

Pleasing surroundings (photo by John)

Stacked waka ama (photo by John)

After a while we came to a barrier denying access to the track – for repair works on the track – so we diverted up the hill into the city streets. We walked our bikes some distance along Victoria Street, thinking that if we were going to stop for morning tea, this would be the place to find a café.

Setting off along Victoria Street after a coffee stop (photo by John)

After coffee, we biked along Victoria Street for some distance. We tried a couple of side streets before we found the one that led to a switchback boardwalk to take us back to the riverside track.

A switchback boardwalk (photo by John)

The track went under a few more bridges, and on some boardwalks, and past a golf club. We passed some pedestrians who apparently could not hear our repeated bell ringing. It wasn’t until I called out to them, that they turned around and let us past.

Fairfield Bridge (photo by John)

They didn’t hear our bells … (photo by John)

Some stretches were on boardwalks (photo by John)

This canopy protects the track from errant golf balls (photo by John)

There were several stretches where the track joined the road for some distance. We rode past the Fonterra Te Rapa factory, and past the Waikato Equestrian Centre. Sadly there was no horsy activity to be seen, but I recognised several of the features, such as the water jump and the big logs, as being arranged as horse jumping obstacles.

Information panel about the Fonterra site

These logs are horse jumps at the Waikato Equestrian Centre

In some places there was a lot of pine needle debris on the track (photo by John)

We don't know what this netting was for, but it looked interesting, flapping in the breeze (photo by John)

As we got close to Horotiu, we went under the bridge of the Waikato Expressway – an attractive new bridge with interesting Māori designs on the supports.

The Waikato Expressway Bridge (photo by John)

I rode up a side track near this bridge to take a look at a large pou whenua at the start of the bridge. 

The pou whenua at the start of the Expressway Bridge

Soon after this bridge we reached the end of the track at Horotiu. We rode up onto the road thinking we could perhaps ride into the township and on to Ngaruawahia, but the town was fairly uninspiring, so we turned around and rode back to Hamilton. I imagine that the extension of the track to Ngaruawahia will follow the river.

By the time we returned to the car, we had biked 40 km. It was a very pleasant ride, easy, flat cycling, mostly alongside the Waikato River.

We had a late lunch in the café at the Hamilton Gardens, after which we took a walk around the world-famous themed gardens. We took lots of photographs there, so I shall put them in a separate post.

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