Napier City Bike Hire
Our record of the Hawkes Bay Trails would not be complete without recording our appreciation of the quality of the service and bikes provided by Rachael Verry and her team at Napier City Bike Hire.
The bikes we were provided with were almost new Avanti Discovery 2, with plenty of gears to assist our aging legs on the uphill stretches. These bikes were ideal for the mixed surface (concrete paths, compacted crushed lime and roadway) riding we faced. And we always knew that if there was a problem, then Rachael was only a phone call away to address it.
Unfortunately even with the best of maintenance programmes occasional gear failure is always a possibility on bike trails; knowing that a quick solution is readily available is both reassuring and one of the primary attractions of hiring bikes. In fact, when Dale’s bike suffered from gear-change problems toward the end of the first day, a quick phone call was all that was needed and a replacement bike delivered to our motel on our return.
To cap things off, when Rachael spotted us returning from the extended Day 3 ride, she waited for us at a convenient spot and offered a lift back to base for anyone feeling the pinch. Now that is service.
So if you are in Hawkes Bay, and looking to take advantage of the many local trails, try Rachael and the team at Napier City Bike Hire, they won’t disappoint.
The Puketapu Loop (“Water Ride”)
The second day’s ride was on the “Puketapu Loop” – the western loop of the Water Ride explored on Day 1. This trip offers a charming country pub stop, restaurant and general store, parks, nearby winery and an historic church: our plan was to take in as much of this as possible.
The day started with a quick 4 kilometre ride along the concrete coastal trail from Ahuriri around the Port to Napier City. We were joined at breakfast (at one of the many café’s in Napier centre) by Kem’s brother Barry, then back onto the coastal route, heading south to the Tutaekuri River.
From Napier south, as far as the Winstone Plant at Awatoto the path is smooth concrete, running between the beach and the coastal highway. A short stretch along the front of the plant is then on a shared pathway alongside the highway, before changing to compacted limestone for the rest of the trail. All make for easy riding, illustrating just how poorly Wellington is catered for with recreational cycleways at present.
After a few false starts along the wrong side of the river and some back tracking to find the right turn-off (lack of observation on our part – missing the key sign-post) the trail turns inland and runs along the top of the stop-bank, with the river on the left and mixed orchards and vineyards on the right. Apart from the regular frustration of manoeuvring through the many diabolical “kissing gates” used for stock control this part of the run is flat and easy going.
A mid-morning diversion took us off the stop-bank at Tareha Recreation Reserve, and into Taradale for coffee and cold drinks. Then back onto the stop-bank, continuing toward Puketapu. Shortly before Puketapu the trail drops off the stop-bank and continues through stands of trees, finally offering some respite from direct sun. For this section we rode with a group of locals on a day-trip, also heading for The Puketapu for lunch. A popular destination by all accounts.
An award winning pub, The Puketapu is clearly set up to cater for riders on the cycle trail, with plenty of bike stands, and outdoor tables, at least three of which were claimed by cycling groups. Fortunately Dale had booked a table for us, and we were able to quickly claim our spot and enjoy the refreshments and fresh food.
Then back on the bikes, across the river on the nearby road-bridge, and back down river, this time on the true right stop-bank. More of the same – including more of those damn gates.
Crossing back over the river on the bridge at Waiohiki Rd, we switched to on-road riding down Meeanee Road, to one of the highlights of the trip, The Old Church. Set amongst the grape vines, this converted Catholic Church is now an award winning restaurant and events venue. Although we arrived between sittings, the staff were happy to provide coffee and afternoon tea for five, as we took advantage of the informal seating area and enjoyed the olde world charm.
The final stretch of this ride was back out to the coast along Meeanee Road, then back onto the coastal part of the trail and back to Ahuriri. An easy ride had it not been for the strong head wind all along Marine Parade and around the Port.
A round trip of “just” 67.14 kilometres, with 4 hours 40 minutes “in the saddle” – our longest single day trip to date. Too tired to go far, a short walk to the Boardwalk café along from the motel gave welcome relief and an entertaining evening meal.
And if you really want to follow our trip – including the navigation errors and backtracking – try this short video: