Friday, 7 April 2017

Cycling in Hawke's Bay: From the National Aquarium of New Zealand to Bay View.

If New Zealand has a leisure cycling nirvana, Hawke's Bay is it. In a region with a warm, sunny, Mediterranean climate, lovely scenery and lots of things to do on those essential rest days, there are over 200 km of easy year-round cycling trails. Hawke's Bay encompassing the towns of Napier, Hastings and Havelock North in the North Island, is the perfect destination if you have never cycled on a holiday before and want to give it a go. None of the trails take more than a few hours and you will never be far from civilisation.

Download a copy of the Hawke's Bay Trails Brochure from hawkesbaynz.com or nzcycletrail.com, or pick up a copy from an i-SITE & Visitor Information Centre, grab a bike and go!


The National Aquarium to Bay View


Location - The National Aquarium on Marine Parade to Bayview, just north of Napier
Distance - 26 km return
Terrain - Flat, easy, sealed shared pedestrian and cycle path for almost the whole distance.
Difficulty - Easy
Highlights - The stunning street art and Art Deco of Napier. 
Website and Map - Scroll down to the end of this post for a map or click here - Hawke's Bay Trails Brochure

Of all the Hawke's Bay rides this is the best to begin with. It is flat, easy and scenic with the added benefit that because it follows the sea front you can't get lost. At 26 kms one way it is a good length for a leisurely, holiday cycle. The path runs for a further 20 kms or so past the National Aquarium heading away from Bay View so you can make the ride as long or as short as you want by beginning further south.

Cycling at Westshore, Hawke's Bay
The path at Westshore


South of the National Aquarium - 

South of the National Aquarium the scenery becomes a bit monotonous, with not much to look at other than sand and waves.  However between the National Aquarium and Bay View there is so much to see you can easily take all day.

National Aquarium, Napier
If you read my post on Street Art in Napier, you will already have seen this photo of the side wall of the National Aquarium, but it is such a great piece of art I had to sneak it in again.
Napier CBD -

You will start out cycling past long stretches of sand and surf. As you get closer to Napier, watch out for the Art Deco buildings strung out along Marine Parade. When you get to Napier city centre, take a quick walk (or cycle) around the block bordered by Dickens St, Clive Square and Tennyson St. Watch out for the Street Art and many Art Deco buildings.

Art Deco in Napier
Click on the link for my recent post on Art Deco in Napier

West Quay - 

Beyond central Napier the path goes past the Port of Napier with its container and cruise ship terminals. Don't miss the mural painted on the lighthouse at Perfume Point or the 'missionary pot' in front of the old Customs House at West Quay. A friend of ours has one in their garden and insisted for years it was used by cannibals to cook missionaries in the jungles of South America. In fact it is a 'whaler's try pot', used to melt whale blubber and extract the oil. It is more fun though if you imagine a couple of hapless missionaries headed for the dinner table - rescuied, of course, at the last minute.

Whaler's Try Pot
Whaler's Try Pot - or is it a Missionary Pot!
If you are lucky you might also see a 'waka', a traditional Maori double-hulled canoe. We watched one being manoeuvred in the Ahuriri Estuary. It was a true mix of old culture and new with an enormous single oar right next to a bank of modern solar panels.

Waka
A Waka. Can you see the flat solar panel at the front and the huge single oar next to it?

Westshore -

Past West Quay you will be back to cycling past sand and surf on your right. Watch out on your left for the Ahuriri Estuary wetlands, a sanctuary for endangered wildlife. If you have the energy you can detour through these. 

Hawke's Bay Trails
Hawke's Bay Trails - the route is well signposted.


Bay View -

If you make it all the way to Bay View there is a nice little cafe at the end - perfect for coffee or lunch before turning for home. Just follow the signs through the Napier Beach Kiwi Holiday Park along the main drive past the cabins.

Cafes - 

There is no shortage of cafes and take-aways on this ride. Napier CBD is full of them, there are more at West Quay and one at Bay View, where David and I stopped for a break before tackling the return cycle.

Parking - 

There is a parking area at the National Aquarium as well as a couple of others as you drive south. Between the aquarium and Napier CBD you will run into pay parking and time-limited zones. Unless you plan to hire a bike in Napier, I would avoid parking here. At the northern end of the ride there are more parking areas between West Quay and Bay View.

The Hawke's Bay Trails Map marks parking places.

Bike hire - 

There are several bike hire shops in Napier, just ask at the Napier i-Site.


My tip - 

Be aware of which way the wind is blowing. The one drawback of Hawke's Bay as an otherwise perfect place for cycling is that it can get quite windy. If you have the wind at your back on the way out it is easy to cycle too far only to discover the return ride home in to the wind is a lot harder going than you expected.




Other trails we have cycled in New Zealand.



Other blog posts from our two weeks in New Zealand:
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32 comments:

  1. I've been to Napier and I think cycling is a great way to see the area. The path along the waterfront would be great on a sunny day. The tip on checking wind direction before starting your ride is good.

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    1. Even if you don't ride a bike, the paths are great for walking. Just don't try to go as far - lol!

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  2. I am not a biker, but walking along the waterfront would be a great way to enjoy the area. I may not be able to cover all the distance (26 km sounds like a lot of walking), but still I could do some of that. Great photos. #TheWeeklyPostcard

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    1. The trick with walking is just to do the interesting bits, but I suppose you know that already - lol.

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  3. I think your advice about the wind is correct, it can make cycling difficult, nut what a great way to see Napier

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    1. The first long cycle David and I ever did together we had the wind behind us on the way out and didn't realise it until we turned around. Getting home was exhausting. We were in Holland, which at least is flat, but we had dreadful hire bikes. I don't think my knees have recovered to this day.

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  4. Ah, another cycling route for my husband to put on his list if we ever make it to New Zealand - fingers crossed! It looks great!

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    1. If your husband is a cyclist, he would love New Zealand. If you aren't a cyclist, Hawke's Bay would be the perfect place to hire an e-bike and ride with him.

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  5. I think I will walk the tracks and stop at the many cafes. Sounds fun

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    1. You will enjoy it just as much, you just won't get as far. There is always the hire an e-bike option.

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  6. I am not much of a biker, but looks like a fun path to walk part of! Love that your friend thinks that his/her pot was used to boil missionaries by cannibals (very imaginative!).

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    1. I actually believed her for a while.

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  7. Love the cannibal pot story lol great way to explore the Bay. The photos capture it well too

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    1. You could just imagine a couple of hapless missionaries in that pot.

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  8. This looks like the best rout so far! I love the story about the missionaries pot, you really conjured up the image for me! I always thought those pots were used by headhunters for shrinking the heads of their victims.

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    1. Haha - perhaps you are right. It makes more sense when you think about it!

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  9. Hawke's Bay definitely looks like a cycling nirvana to me. I love going on a bike ride, especially one that has so many great little stops along the way. Thanks for the tip about the wind. We always took that in to account on rides we took in the San Francisco area along the bay. The winds turn an easy bike ride into a total workout!

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    1. I can imagine San Francisco could be quite tricky with wind direction. The strongest winds we have ever encountered were in Wellington, New Zealand. Wellington is one of those perpetually windy cities. We went cycling there last year. We knew we had the wind at our backs but when we turned around to head home the wind was so strong we couldn't even get on our bikes. We had to walk for about a half a kilometre until we turned a bit of a corner where it was sheltered enough for us to get going.

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  10. Oh yes! I've already saved your post about Napier and the street murals, but I'm excited to know you can bike to all of these! :) Thanks for linking up with #TheWeeklyPostcard!
    (www.caliglobetrotter.com)

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    1. Wait until next week when I let you into my secret 'lunch at a winery' rest stop.

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  11. This looks like a great cycle path...well signed, plenty to see and some good stops on the way though I may do the shorter walking version myself! Great tip about the wind!

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    1. The direction of the wind is probably less significant if you are walking but even so it would be nicer to have the wind at your back on the way home.

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  12. Great post, Lyn. Thx for reposting the fab pic from your Street Art in Napier post, as that one was my fav!

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    1. It was my favourite too. I couldn't resist putting it up again.

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  13. We keep saying that we need to get back on our bikes. Reading this, I realized why we don't: Our home turf is just not scenic. Don't get me wrong, we have a decent trail system, but it's mostly roadsides and alleyways. We'd definitely hop on the bikes for a nice lake or beach front ride! (heavy sigh ;) Thanks for sharing on #TheWeeklyPostcard!

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    1. We have some great scenic rides in Sydney, where David and I live. Come and visit and we will take on some of them - we can even lend you a couple of bikes!

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  14. Great post. It's such a gorgeous town. We have family there and I really must get back soon

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    1. You are the second person who has said they have family in Hawke's Bay after reading this post. I can see why Kiwis want to live there. It is lovely.

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  15. Looks like a cool path to cycle or even walk on. That street art is gorgeous! :D

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    1. That is the great thing about shared trails - they are great for everyone.

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  16. Wow! This is such a comprehensive bike riders dream tour of New Zealand. Thanks for sharing! now I must go there!

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    1. New Zealand has so many great bikes paths.

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