Skip to content

Waikato River Trails : Karapiro Section

April 30, 2016
Wetland boardwalk after Little Waipa Domain.

Riverside boardwalk after Little Waipa Domain.

Part of The New Zealand Cycle Trail, the Waikato River Trails are divided into five sections that run 100km from the Pokaiwhenua Bridge carpark south-east to Atiamuri.

I checked-out Section One last time I was down that way as it’s not too far from Karapiro, although the start-point at Pokaiwhenua Bridge proved elusive! I couldn’t for the life of me find it so I drove to the far end of the section at the Arapuni Dam, parked-up and rode to the start (and back) from there.

Tip: 2 Degrees has almost no coverage in this part of the Waikato. Without a hard-copy map I ended-up doing a tiki-tour of the countryside before I eventually located Arapuni. Vodafone wasn’t much better, so after a similar experience last month in North Otago I’ve swapped over to the Evil Empire (Spark) and sacrificed some of my cool points for a chance at survival!

Later that afternoon as I pedalled up to Pokaiwhenua Bridge it’s lack of international renown made total sense. This is no Grafton Bridge or Golden Gate, simply a section of Horahora Rd bridging the Pokaiwhenua stream. Have a snoop along Horahora Rd on Google maps/satellite and you’ll see the little gravel carpark starting point nestled in a bend on the snaky waterway.

The elusive Pokaiwhenua Bridge.

The elusive Pokaiwhenua Bridge (behind 3rd bush from the left).

Enough talk of navigation, lets talk about the trail…

Section One (at 13km) is the shortest of the five legs and pretty easy going. I reckon coordinated kids as young as 6 or 7 could ride it “downstream” from the Arapuni Dam end (back towards Cambridge), and children with geared bikes would cope with the “upstream” direction, there’s no significant climbing. The trail has a mix of gravel, boardwalk and dirt that in dry conditions you could ride on a road-bike, certainly a hybrid. The fat tyres on a mountainbike will make things more comfortable however, and that’s what I recommend.

Gravel-grinding besides Horahora Rd.

Gravel-grinding besides Horahora Rd.

Don’t be put-off by the initial 4km. From Pokaiwhenua Bridge carpark to Little Waipa Domain you are riding a thin gravel path beside the main road. You can see where the river is, but it’s in the distance across farmers’ fields. The road is not busy, making it a pleasant countryside ramble, but it’s nothing to write home about (see above).

When you reach Little Waipa Domain things improve significantly and the trail proper takes-off across wetlands at the edge of the river itself. The Waikato, while never far way, is obscured for much of the ride, so suck-up the views on this section of riverbank before the trees start closing-in.

Karapiro Section

I could ride this stuff all day.

As the boardwalk peters-out you climb gently through bush and farmland working your way up towards the Power Station at Arapuni. Before you get there though the trail deposits you on Powerhouse Rd, and you have to ride 100m or so (on the actual road) before rejoining the trail. Watch the kids here, it’s not a busy road but is well used by station staff and contractors.

First commissioned in 1929, Arapuni is an impressive edifice and is actually on the Historic Places register, not many power stations can claim that! It sits towards the “brutal” end of the Art Deco scale, more concrete box than Chrysler Building, but in such a setting, with the sun beating down and millions of litres of water thundering below, it made quite an impression.

Arapuni Power Station

Arapuni Power Station

During construction a suspension bridge was built to gain access to the “top camp” (which eventually became Arapuni township), and unless you have a fear of heights it’s a must-see. When I first rolled-in I had the place to myself and rode to the other side and back. On the return trip a coach-load of English tourists had beaten me to it. Suspended high above the river working on their tans and looking for tearooms, things were a bit crowded, so I abandoned my steed and legged it across, still good fun!

Arapuni Suspension Bridge

Arapuni Swing Bridge, viewed from the trail.

If you’re after a cuppa yourself, a cold drink or something to eat, Arapuni township is but a two minute ride away. There’s a little café on the main road (closed the day I visited) and a delightfully bohemian chip-van/ice-cream truck ensemble parked on someone’s front yard across the road from that. I devoured the biggest, yummiest and cheapest ice-cream I’d ever encountered there, and will certainly return.

Arapuni Spillway

Looking upstream from the bridge at the bottom of Powerhouse Rd.

With half a litre of raspberry ripple now spiking the blood sugar you’ll finish Section One in record time a couple of hundred metres up the track at Arapuni Dam.

Section Two (the Arapuni Section) starts across the road from here, but at 36km, and with more climbing, it sounds less of a “family” ride than the Karapiro Section you’ve just completed. I’ll check that one out next time.

Arapuni Dam

Arapuni Dam

Interesting Fact: A stone’s throw from Pokaiwhenua Bridge, submerged at the bottom of the river lies the ghostly remains of Horahora Power Station. When opened in 1913 it was the largest generating plant in the country, providing power to the mining operations at Waihi, 80km away.

Horahora_Power_Station2   horahora_villagers

In 1947 Lake Karapiro was formed behind the Karapiro Power Station Dam, completely submerging Horahora. It kept generating until the last possible day due to power shortages, with two turbines still rotating as the rising waters covered them.

Open Streets : K Road

April 27, 2016

OpenStreetsKRoad

On Sunday May 1st the stretch of K Rd from Upper Queen St along to Ponsonby Rd will be completely vehicle-free from 12pm – 7pm!

Come and experience the street like you’ve never seen it before. Revel in live music, street dining, art installations, pop-up performances and more. Bring the family for a free, fabulous, fun-filled day on K Rd for Auckland’s biggest ever Open Streets event.

Now, as I discovered at the last Open Streets (down on Quay St),  there probably won’t be any room to actually “ride” your bike on the closed section of blacktop, too many people about having a good time for that. But it will be a great event to ride your bike to, and if you do, enter Bike Auckland’s competition below.

Open Streets K Rd Official Blurb

Open Streets K Rd FaceBook Page

Bike Auckland’s Bike & Seek Competition at the event.

Avantidrome – Riding circles in the Waikato

April 20, 2016
AvantiDromeInside

A world-class facility.

With teenage rowers in the family I find myself floating around the Waikato on a regular basis. Initially these trips struck fear in my heart – I had flashbacks to foggy Hamilton mornings riding endlessly flat streets trying to find my way back home. That was the 1970s, long before GPS & polypropylene. When Child-Services eventually reunited me with my family boiling water would be poured on my hands to separate me from my Raleigh Twenty.

AvantiDromeOutside

Kid knows it, green bikes are the coolest bikes!

Well, fast-forward to present day Mooloo country and the Waikato is an awesome place to ride a bike, for three seasons of the year anyway!

Just out of Cambridge (on the road to Hamilton) is the spanky new Avantidrome. But don’t ride down the main highway to get there, instead follow Alpha Street from the middle of Cambridge and soon you’ll be cruising the newest section of the Te Awa river ride. This beautiful concrete path skirts farmers’ fields beside the Waikato River before turning inland towards the velodrome.

TeAwaPathVelodrome_LTR

Te Awa bike path on a busy day.

Apart from a couple of lookout spots you don’t see the river much, it’s far below you, but this is a very pleasant pedal through the country I’m sure you’ll enjoy. There’s one little hill to tackle at the end, but the path is predominantly flat and suitable for all members of the family.

AvantiDromeCafe

Vintage machinery on display in Revolve Café.

You don’t have to be into track bikes or racing to appreciate Avantidrome. As well as high-performance sport the facility was set-up to encourage all members of the community to get active, and when you’re over being “active” there’s a nice café with all manner of sweet-treats and cheesy-combustibles.

Entry to the facility is free and worth a look even if you have no interest in cycling. I’d never seen a velodrome in the flesh and the steepness of the wooden banking (43.5º!) will blow your mind. If you’re lucky you might witness New Zealand’s best cranking around at breakneck speed as you walk around the top of the grandstands.

AvantiDromeBW

Stay low for a fast time.

The day I visited a Have-a-Go session was in progress. For $15 you get an hour with a qualified coach, a bike to ride, even a helmet. How’s that for value? It looked like such fun I booked-in a session later in the week and had-a-go myself. T-shirts and running shoes are fine, you don’t have to dress like a pro, but you won’t look out-of-place either way.

AvantiDromeRider

Have-A-Go session in progress.

Riding track is all about speed, they even keep the ambient temperature high as it makes for faster times. I thought I was fit, but after four 250m laps (riding flat out) I was gasping for breath and soaked in sweat. An hour was long enough to learn the rules, get fitted on a bike, do a couple of wobbly warm-ups and ride maybe a dozen laps at speed. That was plenty for me, I was super pumped afterwards but still had a little energy left for the ride back to Cambridge.

AvantidromeSkillsCourse  AvantidromePumpTrack

Outside the velodrome is a bike skills park, it’s free to use and suitable for all ages and skill levels. Crusty 50-year-olds and little groms on balance-bikes were having a ball the day I visited. I know, because I was the crusty 50-year-old. There’s a miniature road network with working traffic-lights, a larger gravel pump-track with bermed corners, rollers & jumps and a snaking section of skinny boardwalk in the middle to keep you on your toes.

Avantidrome_TeAwa

Follow the white line.

New Zealand is one of the few counties where Joe Blogs like you and I can use the same facilities as Olympic athletes and not feel out-of-place or intimidated. Our own Millennium Institute has a similar vibe, it’s something to be celebrated.

Hey Ladies, fall in love with a bike this Saturday

April 14, 2016

FallInLoveWithABike
Come fall in love with a bike at our ladies “Try My Bike” afternoon, Saturday 16 April 3-4:30pm at Narrow Neck’s Wakatere Boating Club.

This is a perfect opportunity those interested in riding more to test out a wide range of amazing bikes suited to women. For FREE!

Equally fun for those already enamoured with two wheels, wanting to share the joy or try a new ride, from vintage step throughs to cargo and ebikes. Bring a friend, enjoy an afternoon tea, and fall in love.

It’s a FREE EVENT, but please RSVP for catering with zane.bray@aucklandtransport.govt.nz

Note: Wakatere Boating Club is located at Narrow Neck Beach and on the Takapuna/Devonport bus route. If ferrying from town it is only a short bus trip from Devonport, or its a short ride along a shared path. An access map will be posted soon.

Help get SeaPath on the right path.

April 14, 2016

SEAPATH_QUICKSUBMIT

This time last year Generation Zero blew Auckland Council away with over 11,000 submissions in support of Skypath – the proposed walking and cycling path across the harbour bridge. They’d never seen anything like it before. It showed what we can do collectively if we put our energy together, and we now have a chance to connect Skypath up to the North Shore cycle network.

Right now Auckland Council is consulting on a project known as Seapath. It’s a 3 km shared path connecting Takapuna and the expanding North Shore cycle network to SkyPath. You can see the planned route in the picture below.

SEAPATH Route
The problem last time for Skypath was a small minority of voices came out early and opposed the project putting huge roadblocks in the way of moving Skypath forward quickly. This time we need to show that Seapath has the support of all Aucklanders very early on in the process.

As a cyclist, well just as an Aucklander really, I reckon easy access to the city by bike of on foot is a no-brainer. Generation Zero’s Quick Submission Form makes the process quick and easy. Have a read through the points they highlight and get clicking!

Normal programming will resume…

April 12, 2016
BigGravel

Gravel-grinding.

I’m back! Had a mad couple of months at the pointy-end of the school rowing season where work and offspring commitments have left precious little time for bike-blogging.

Anyway, if you’re after information on local bike events Bike Auckland (formally Cycle Action Auckland) have their finger on the pulse and a snazzy new website. Closer to home there are the Bike Devonport and Bike Albany FaceBook groups. These folks are so on-top of social media, why are you even reading this? – Ha ha, I do what I can ;^)

I’ve got a few things to write-up in the next couple of weeks, none of it related to riding on the Shore! Last week I was in North Otago and for the first time travelled by air with a bike. I was a tad nervous entrusting my baby to the behind-closed-doors world of WWF Baggage-Handling, but with a bike-bag and a liberal application of pool-noodles it survived the ordeal.

She survived the lumpy Otago gravel too (see pic above), but after a 90km off-road day my backside is still lost-in-transit.

Hooton Reserve | Oteha Valley, Albany

February 15, 2016

This week we have a guest post by Albany resident Nicholas Carman.

The Bike Friendly crew have ridden around this area plenty of times, visited the playground and the skatepark, never realising a great bike-path was hiding a stone’s throw away. Thanks for sharing this hidden gem with us Nicholas! 

Scenic Gravel in Hooton Reserve

A scenic section winding it’s way behind the Albany Tennis Park.

My family and I moved to Albany in mid 2013 and it wasn’t long before I began looking speculatively at my old mountain bike which had been resting unloved in my parents basement for the last ten years.

After I took it along to a nearby bike shop and revived it I started looking around for places to ride. I was straight away drawn to the green area in front of Mitre 10 Mega on Oteha Valley Rd.

Hooton Reserve looked to have been made by the old North Shore City Council and consisted of a playground and a bike-trail that stretched from the motorway almost all the way to Albany Village. Almost, because it stopped short at the stream before Gills Road, as if the council had run out of money to complete the project.

Gills Road Entrance

The beginning of the trail at Gill’s Rd, close to Albany Village.

I intended to write to the local board to suggest that they ought to finish the trail so that it ran all the way to Albany, but somebody beat me to the punch. Over the winter and spring of 2015 a crew came in and built the bridge and finished the path all the way to Gills Rd.

The completed path offers walkers and riders a car-free route all the way from the motorway to Albany Village. I use it to take my son to the Albany Library when the weather is good. It also helps connect walkers and riders to the Kell Park reserve behind the library.

This path can be found starting next to the northbound on-ramp at Oteha Valley Rd, or at the other end from the northern side of Albany Village, by turning down Gills Rd.

Northern End Of Trail

The trail ends here with a looped section as it meets the Northern Motorway.

The path begins at the Oteha Valley end with a funny little loop around a stormwater pond (one of the leftovers which the recent improvements has connected up). It crosses a bridge and then descends into the park, running alongside the stream.

The path is mostly crushed white stone, with concrete on some downhill sections. It’s ideal for families as it is all off-road and mostly flat. There’s also a playground in the middle, in front of Mitre 10 Mega if the kids need a break.

The only place you will encounter cars on the path is in front of the Kawai Purapura yoga retreat. Visitors occasionally drive their cars in and out of the retreat, but the intersection is signposted, and traffic is sparse.

Hooton Reserve Playground

The playground in front of Mitre 10 Mega on Oteha Valley Rd

For visitors from outside Albany I would suggest a good place to start would be the kids playground in the middle. You could ride into Albany and visit the library, and buy a coffee or ice cream at the shops. Or you could park in Albany and ride to the motorway and back.

I recommend Hooton Reserve to you as a green and pleasant place to take your family riding, or if you live in Albany, it makes an excellent car-free shortcut to the shops.
– Nicholas

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 95 other followers