Saturday, 23 March 2013

HAWKES BAY - Ahuriri to Havelock North (52km)

The Hawkes Bay Tour is about to begin.

 U3A Peddling for Pleasure

Jenny from Takaro Trails Cycle Tours (Link) arrived and whisked us away to her office and workshop in Ahuriri where we collected our Scott Sportster hybrid bikes and made all the necessary adjustments for a comfortable five day tour of the Hawkes Bay countryside. All the bikes came with panniers, helmets and puncture repair kits.
Each was given a map and written riding instructions highlighting cafes, wineries and other places of interest throughout the ride and Jenny assured us that help was only a short time away should we need it.
Overnight, we appear to have become minor celebrities and just prior to commencing our ride, a photographer from the local paper arrived to take our photograph. Throughout the next few days, we were greeted and given encouragement by a number of readers of the regional paper

Caffeine top up at Starbucks


On departing Ahuriri, we followed the coastline back to Napier where we stopped for our first coffee. It appears to be part of the recreational cyclist creed internationally, to charge up on coffee when riding. Personally, although I love coffee, too much sometimes makes me feel unwell when cycling.

Napier abuzz with people

Napier was abuzz with tourists due to a cruise ship being in port which made for a carnival atmosphere.Whilst some of our group sat and sipped coffee others strolled around the Art Deco town taking photographs of some of the 1930's architecture.

Back on the trail again, you couldn't help but notice the colour and texture of the beach. It was a coarse, black, volcanic pebble, much different to the red and white sand we are used to. Of course, the whole island is not like this as most of the beaches have beautiful sand.

Touring by bicycle can give you a sharper appreciation of the intricate differences in landscape that you may not normally experience in your homeland. When travelling in a motor vehicle, you notice the spectacular but due to the speed the less subtle changes are often missed. Not only that but when riding the trails you feel as though you are a natural part of the surroundings.
On this ride we experienced the very essence of the terrain we were travelling in and there were so many differences, colours, textures, species, architecture,contours, the list goes on.


Clive River
A pair of beautiful swans  who have made these wetlands  home

Wetlands with Napier in the distance

We followed the pathway to the bridge spanning the Ngaruroro River and then over the Clive River. Here an executive decision was made to bypass Clive and continue on the "Water Trail" past wetlands, home to a number of species of native birds. The path took us a short way along the coast before veering right and following the Tuki Tuki River to Black Bridge.

An interesting shot. Perhaps the riders were victims of kidnappers
Cape Kidnappers

Cape Kidnappers

Clifton Cafe

Awesome coffee

On crossing the bridge, we followed the river back to the coast continuing all the way to Clifton which is at the base of Cape Kidnappers. Clifton cafe was a real find, serving quality lunches and great coffee. If we had the time we would probably have taken the tour to the colony of Gannets on Cape Kidnappers, but we still had quite a ride ahead of us.

The name Cape Kidnappers conjures up all sorts dreaded deeds but in fact the true story can be found by opening the following link

Te Awanga Beach looking towards Cape Kidnappers

After lunch, we headed back to Black Bridge picking up some of our group who decided to take a break at Te Awanga.

Apples, grapes and corn......Almost a cyclist's breakfast here

From Black Bridge we continued on the limestone trail through an array of colourful vineyards, orchards and grain crops until we reached Te Mata Road which lead us into Havelock North.


Acorns on an Oak

Four km. from Havelock North, we pulled into the Te Mata winery to take a look and sample the wine. As I was more inclined towards a nice cold ale at this time I declined the wine tasting and whiled away some time under a beautiful old oak tree.

Example of a stop bank

You may have noticed that some photographs show the trails are atop embankments which were put in place by the Government as a measure of flood mitigation. This is an excellent idea from a cyclists point of view in that it gives the embankments a secondary use as a base for cycling and walking trails and secondly due to the height, enhances the view as can be seen in some of the photographs.

Very innovative

You can almost hear the thrust of that donk


Havelock North is a pretty little town, 5 minutes from Hastings and 15 minutes from Napier and prides itself as being the fashion hub of Hawkes Bay. Incidentally, my wife, who was also on the ride agrees, having declined an after ride drink at a local pub in favour of a spa and stroll through the local shops. I can't comment on fashion but I do have to comment on three notable points observed whilst in Havelock North and they are the innovative bike stands, good selection of flavoursome ales and their apparent liking for veteran sports cars with grunt. All male things I know but...... and they can serve up a pretty mean steak as well.
 Cheers and safe riding,

Jimmy Bee


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