This week, I am working for a few days in Havelock North. For the geographically challenged, its a small town near the slightly larger small towns of Napier and Hastings in the sunny Hawkes Bay (for the even more geographically challenged, east coast, North Island of New Zealand).
On this spectacularly warm, sunny, late autumn day, I borrowed a bike from the place I’m staying and headed off with a view to biking along the river park embankment or getting completely lost.
Around 4km from Havelock North starts the river parkway. This is just essentially a dual lane track along the river stop bank. There are a number of ways to go and I headed along in the direction towards the even smaller town of Clive which is approximately 18km away.
I am not an avid bike rider, I’m a commuter cyclist and it was an easy ride. For the first part leaving Havelock North Village, you head along for a few minutes through suburbs until you get to the start of the rural area. All the way was cycle path along the edge of the road. In some areas, bikes detour slightly out of the traffic lane.
On one side is the river, although in most places it was through trees so I couldn’t see it. On the other is orchards and vineyards pretty much all the way along with hills in the distance. At one point, you could see snow capped mountains far away.
Today, being a Sunday, there were a lot of people out on bikes, walking, jogging and exercising their dogs along and around the track.
There were a number of wooden seats to stop and rest for a minute and also a number of places where you had to get off your bike and go through a stock gate. Towards the end of the section I biked, there is even a small café where you can get a coffee.
I did have a few challenges with bike I had. The back tire was a little flat, I asked a man at one of the stock gates if he had a bike pump, yes he did, and he kindly inflated my slightly flat back tire. That made a huge difference. But for a bike with 7 gears, I only used 1 & 2. It was hard work pedaling on what was essentially flat ground on a windless day.
Return journey was around 23km. It took me 2 hours at a very, very slow pace. I stopped a number of times to take photos but if I’d been riding my own bike, I am sure I would have done it in half the time. On the main road, there were signs for wineries in all directions.
Hiring a bike is something that has always appealed to me when travelling and after today, its something I would definitely consider. Its a great way to see the sights slowly but faster than walking.