Saturday 24 June 2017

Mana to Pukerua

Last Monday, 19 June, we took a ride from Mana to Pukerua Bay. It was fine but cold, however there was little wind. We parked the car at the Ngati Toa Domain in Mana, and biked along the foreshore to Plimmerton.

The rocky foreshore, looking across to the Whitireia Peninsula and Mana Island beyond (photo by John)

Looking the other way, towards Plimmerton (photo by John)

We biked up Te Ara Harakeke from Plimmerton to Pukerua, where we used the pedestrian overbridge to cross SH1, so we could explore the “other” side of Pukerua. We have lived in Wellington for over 50 years, and have driven through Pukerua a gazillion times, but we had never explored that area.

After crossing the railway line at the station, we headed to the left, towards a track that looked promising. However it was the track leading to the Escarpment Track. This is the steep 10 km track that clings to the side to the Paekakariki Hill. It was opened last year, and is part of the Te Araroa Walking Trail which runs the length of New Zealand, 3,000 km, from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

While I am full of admiration (no, actually, I think they're completely bonkers!) for the many people who are bold and keen enough to walk this track, there is no way at all that I will ever attempt it. Not on foot, and not by bike (which is not possible anyway). I stick to the assertion that I am a “flatlander” – I don’t “do hills” if I can help it.

The sign at the start of the Escarpment Track is full of warnings (click to enlarge), but it doesn’t seem to put off hundreds of people who enjoy walking it – but it’s not for me! (photo by John)

This part of Pukerua Bay is a pleasant suburban area, where some of the streets have gorgeous views out towards Paraparaumu and the Tasman Sea.

Some streets had great views (photo by John)

We came across a house which was a work of art in progress. Three-quarters of the façade had been painted with a view, which I imagine will be like the view they get from the windows on the other side of the house. Or perhaps, as John suggests, it could be the view one gets from Plimmerton. The lower right quadrant is yet to be painted. We will have to come back next summer to see if it has been completed.

The painted house (photo by John)

We biked all around the streets, and arrived at the old, now closed, Muri Station. The Escarpment Track skirts this area. We continued on the path alongside the station, but it petered out at a grassy slope, and we ended up pushing our bikes up it (thank goodness for the “walk assist” on our bikes) to get back to the street above.

After a good explore around the streets, we saw that clouds were gathering, and we didn’t want to get caught in the rain, so we headed back. We stopped at Plimmerton’s Big Salami Café for coffee and one of their delicious pizzas. We’d had a pleasant ride, exploring a "new" area, and John had managed it OK, despite some health concerns a few days earlier. We had done 22 km.

The foreshore track between Plimmerton and Mana (photo by John)

Folding Goldies Ride – Whiteman’s Valley

I’m getting very much behind on my blog posts. I must write up our last Folding Goldies ride, as the invitation for the next ride has already arrived in our inbox. So here goes …

On Wednesday 7 June, the Folding Goldies ride took us to Whiteman’s Valley. Alastair, the organiser, described the ride like this, on Meet Up: “Whiteman's Valley is one of the nicest rides in the Wellington region – the word 'bucolic' was invented for places like this”.

The weather had not looked promising all week, but on the day, it was OK-ish. Still overcast, but at least not raining. As the day wore on, more and more blue sky appeared, and while riding down the valley it was actually sunny. But it was COLD!

We took the train to Wallaceville from Petone. Alastair, Nigel and Colin were on the train already. Doff and Neil met us at Wallaceville. They live in Waikanae, so they drove down to meet us at the station.

Waiting for the train at Petone (photo by John)

We all met up at Wallaceville Station – from left: Nigel, Désirée, Neil, Doff, Colin, Alastair
 (photo by John)

From Wallaceville, it was straight up the hill towards Whiteman’s Valley. On our e-bikes John and I got there well before the others, so we had to wait for them to catch up.

Wallaceville Road is quite steep in places (photo by John)

All caught up (photo by John)

The valley is lovely but I didn't enjoy it as much as I had on previous occasions – mainly because it was so cold. Also, when you are talking with others, and keeping a look-out for them, you don't take quite so much notice of the surroundings, or get as much enjoyment from them.

Doff on Whiteman’s Valley Road. The sky gradually cleared from grey to a more pleasant blue
 (photo by John)

John and Neil. Note John’s two cameras, one on his handlebar, and one underneath his saddle
 (photo by Alastair Smith)

As we rode past, we got a whiff of the distinctive, somewhat sour smell emanating
from the polythene-wrapped bales of silage (photo by John)

Whiteman’s Valley Road comes to an end at the junction with Johnsons Road and Blue Mountains Road. The Short Straw Café on Johnsons Road was not open, so we hurtled down Blue Mountains Road to have lunch at the Silverstream Bakery and Café at the bottom. Riding down the hill – for about 7 km – was great, but very hard on my gammy hands, as I have to bring my thumbs around on the handlebar so I don't loose my grip on the brakes, but I can't keep that position for very long – it hurts!

At the bottom of the hill (photo by John)

Lunch at the bakery was very pleasant – as Alastair said “It’s another place to put on our Folding Goldies’ list of cafés”.

Lunch at the Silverstream Bakery and Café (photo by John)

Afterwards, Alastair and Nigel took the train back to Wellington, Doff and Neil took the train back to Wallaceville (where their car was), and Colin, John and I rode down the Hutt River Trail back to Petone, where we had parked the car. All up, we did about 38 km. Colin, however, decided he would ride home from there, all the way to Titahi Bay. Fortunately he was riding an e-bike.

It was very, very cold coming down the Hutt River Trail, as the southerly had got up. I never warmed up all day, until I had sat by the heater at home for half an hour with a hot cup of coffee in my hand.