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Long Bay to Okura River Coastal Track

April 19, 2014
Pic-a-nic Trail

Taking a breather on the 100 Acre Trail.

If you’re out and about in Long Bay and don’t mind riding some gnarly hills you might want to give the Coastal Track a crack and head north to the Okura River. A walking path has been there for years, accessed from the stairs just past Vaughan Homestead, but it’s a bit of a roller-coaster with masses of stairs. Now a series of gravel paths have been constructed with bikes and the less adventurous walker in mind. This new trail zigs & zags up the hills at various angles so if you have a mountainbike with nice low gears it’s totally ridable, if a little steep in places. Teenage kids will cope fine (with the odd push), but leave the little guys at home, or walk the tracks instead.

Crowded Trail

Pay attention – I encountered walkers, runners, cyclists and these trail-users.

The cycle track starts at Vaughan Flats in the north-western corner of Long Bay Regional Park. Pedal past the ranger station on the access road from the main gate and you’ll see it sign-posted on your left. The first half of the trails are graveled tracks and farm access roads. As you approach farm gates there are ridable stiles initially (which are great), but as you progress further you’ll have to muscle your bike over the fences and use the traditional stiles provided for yourself. Sounds like hard work, but there are only a couple of these.

Electric View

Start of the 100 Acre Trail side-loop.

When that first climb out of Long Bay is over (it’s the hardest one) you can ride straight down into Grannys Bay or detour along the 100 Acre Trail on your left. In summer I’d recommend doing this as it’s a fun 10-minute loop with glimpses of the surrounding farm and panoramic views out to sea as you barrel down into Grannys Bay. This section is grassed so I’m guessing it will be hard-going, and probably muddy when the rains return in winter.

Gravel Trail

Some weirdo on a road-bike.

After climbing out of Grannys Bay you drop down into Pohutakawa Bay. Another beautiful spot, but be aware it’s a nudist beach. I’ve got no problem with folks airing their goods in public but why are nudists never 27-year-old fitness instructors? The creepy old men I rode past were not pleasant viewing. It looked like one of those Damien Hirst conceptual art installations where human forms have been assembled from a selection of German sausages. Eeeeew, gross.

Some things can never be unseen, I struggled to keep my muesli bar down as I pedaled with renewed vigor up and over the hill out of there!

Grass Trail

Approaching the Okura river-mouth. Um, kind-of-beautiful.

As you head north the gravel surface ends and the trail follows the cliff edge on grass, skirting along the fence-line. Although you’re relatively high-up the sea views are mostly blocked by gorse and scrub, with only glimpses of coastline through the trees. It’s more like a ride in the country.

The trail is part of Te Araroa – New Zealand’s Trail, a 3000km route stretching from Cape Reinga to Bluff. That came as a surprise to me because after the final downhill you’re deposited on a muddy beach with seemingly nowhere to go. By bike it’s a u-turn and back to Long Bay, but as I discovered the Te Araroa route takes you across the estuary, and joins the Okura Bush Walkway on the opposite side. With my swimming skills that’s not something I’ll be attempting anytime soon. It looked like a Westpac Rescue Helicopter moment to me, but a bloke I met who had just walked across assured me the channel was only knee height.

Rocky Trail

Pause for reflection at the half-way turnaround point.

So there I was, sat on a rock looking across the river mouth to Stillwater. Time for a snack and a drink, then back on the bike for the three or four kilometre ride back to Long Bay. Like most of these little adventures the ride out seems to last forever but the return leg takes no time at all, I’ll never understand that.

Was this crease-in-time the mind playing tricks, or a subconscious effort to escape the sausage-men? That, I’ll never know, but I think if the weather is kind you’ll enjoy this little ride as much as I did.

There’s a MAP of the park and trail here and you can check-out some more photos from Bike Friendly’s earlier visit in: Short Ride at Long Bay.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 11, 2014 10:56 am

    This is a fantastic ride, great views on a nice morning. Try riding around to Okura River Road http://tracks.org.nz/track/show/1294.

    Cheers
    Surveyor Steve

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