Thanks to some passionate advocates and a burst of investment, Auckland City is becoming increasingly pleasurable for pedalling.
Setting off early one sunny morning from Point Chevalier, my route into town is mainly on road, up to Herne Bay via Cox’s Bay. The cafés of Jervois Rd are open for business, but I need a few more kilometres under my belt before I can justify taking a break. I wind down to Curran St and the waterfront, past the hopeful fishermen beneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge before clattering onto the Westhaven Promenade, a freshly minted series of boardwalks built for pedestrians and cyclists. At several points, the promenade extends over the water, with public art dotted about and at night it’s beautifully lit. A forest of masts sways at anchor to my left; the motorway rumbles on the right.
Wynyard Quarter is wonderfully deserted on a weekday morning. On the water, Auckland Seaplanes’ de Havilland Beaver waits patiently for her first flight of the day.
From downtown, I could head straight along the new protected path on Quay St towards Tāmaki Drive, but I have the ‘pink path’ and parts further west in my sights. My safe cycling spell is briefly broken as I’m forced to join traffic until halfway up Nelson St where I find a dual carriageway, just for bikes.
I steam past construction zones, traffic jams, gaping holes where buildings used to stand; you notice so much more when on two wheels.
To the Lightpath – Te Ara i Whiti. This wonderful new curve of cycling splendour, a former motorway off-ramp, may have faded a tad from its original fluorescent glory, but it’s still a magical delight until it spits you out near Upper Queen St.
Back on the road, it is a brief wild ride, dodging cars and buses before Newton Gully and the cycle path that runs alongside the Northwestern Motorway. Leaving the city behind, I whiz west, crossing at the lights near MOTAT, past Chamberlain Park Golf Course, before heading through the Unitec campus.
Skirting the tangle of towering roads that form the new Waterview interchange, I roll across the causeway. The bike path is a smooth ride, wide and flat, with zesty yellow bridges. Twitchers take note: bird life is abundant here and the grey-faced herons seem unfazed by busy traffic and inquisitive cyclists.
Arriving at Te Atatū, I detour through the pretty peninsula for some spectacular views across to the city. The green acres of the pony club hint at the suburb’s rural roots, with scenic wetlands icing the cake.
Around the water’s edge, I strike the occasional dead end, but getting lost is part of the fun, and by now I’ve earned myself a hearty brunch.
Back on the Northwestern Cycleway, I holler for echoes as I ride through the gorgeously decorated Te Atatū underpass tunnel, built especially for cyclists and pedestrians. The Twin Streams Path appears, which takes me first along the Ōpanuku Stream – a revelation, with its twists and turns, charming nooks and crannies and cute little bridges to cross or roll beneath. I arrive at Tūī Glen, a gem of a place with historic holiday chalets and a playground that would blow the minds of younger riders and wonder why I’d never been here before.
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From this point, part two of the trail isn’t well signposted. I follow my map from Henderson’s The Falls restaurant to the Corban Arts Estate car park, but on busy roads I need to have my wits about me.
It’s true that cycling in Auckland isn’t all plain sailing, but there are plenty of superb cycleways to explore and perhaps one day, when the various sections all link up, Auckland will become the City of Trails we dream of.