Where to bike in east Auckland

Ivan Li explores his new ‘hood with new friends from the Bike East Auckland group.

I’ve just moved from the North Shore to east Auckland, swapping an hour-long car commute for a short 5km bike ride to work. I’ve embraced the bike and set up Ride Electric Bikes (rideelectricbikes.co.nz) to encourage people to give cycling a go. In an effort to see how much of my new part of town is accessible by bike, my fellow bike explorers Jo, Kevin and I set off with an ambitious plan: to explore the entire east Auckland area; eating, drinking and chilling. We managed about half of our planned route, but discovered lots of surprises and shortcuts along the way.

Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts
Botany to Pakuranga

We started at Botany Mall. To be honest, getting to Pakuranga via Ti Rakau Drive isn’t super bike-friendly, unless you’re used to biking on a busy road next to cars, so we borrowed the footpath until we reached Gossamer Drive and could ride comfortably on the road again. Then we followed Reeves Road to Pakuranga Plaza, where we stopped in front of the library and the beautiful Te Tuhi Centre for the Arts for a breather.

 

The Rotary Shared Path
Pakuranga to Half Moon Bay

A shortcut through the Plaza and across Pakuranga Road brought us at last to the Rotary Shared Path, a 9km riverside walkway along the Tāmaki Estuary. What beautiful scenery to start the day, and what a huge contrast to the busy roads before! The path is a super-easy ride: it’s evenly paved, and wide enough to share with walkers and riders of all sorts and all ages. The peace and beauty lingers its entire length, with views across to Panmure and Point England. Towards the northern end is a snakes and ladders-themed playground for kids, for those who want to play for a while. There’s also good bike parking and toilet facilities. Nearby, I spotted a small sandy beach next to the Pakuranga Sailing Club. Sandcastles, anyone?

 

Half Moon Bay Marina
Exploring Half Moon Bay

The Rotary path connects to Half Moon Bay via a series of zig-zags through several cul-de-sacs. The signage isn’t totally obvious, but we found our way with the help of a map app. En route, we discovered a few small reserves with great views of the inlet – one of the perks of being on a bike! At the marina, Jo showed us the new pier, which is well designed and sheltered, a boon on rainy and windy days. The ferry is regularly so packed it can be hard to find a car park – a perfect opportunity to bike instead of drive. Good news: you can take your bike on the ferry to town or to Waiheke (it’s free), and there’s also bike parking at the terminal. Of the many great food options at Half Moon Bay, we all agreed that the best coffee was at Grangers Tap House and Kitchen [1 Ara Tai Rd].

 

Bucklands Beach, Eastern Beach & Macleans Park
Half Moon Bay to Bucklands Beach

After coffee, we debated whether to head straight to Howick for lunch or detour via Bucklands Beach. A peek at the map app made up our minds for us: we spotted a path along the waterfront, which we followed out of sheer curiosity… only to discover a beautiful wooden boardwalk built over the water that delivered us straight to Bucklands Beach. The peninsula is so skinny, it was a quick cruise over to Eastern Beach [via Musick Point Road], which has  a nice playground. And then we faced the uphill climb towards Howick for lunch. On the way, we stopped at McLeans Park to catch our breath and check out the amazing view of the peninsula – and to let our inner child out on the exhilarating 50m-long flying fox.

 

Howick Village
Bucklands Beach to Howick

In the village, we pooled our bikes together just outside The Apothecary [27 Picton St], which has charmingly nostalgic decor. Energised by our adventures (and the delicious banana pancakes!), we chatted about the state of biking in east Auckland. Our conclusion: huge potential for weekend leisure rides for families from all over, and better cycleways would enable more people to replace their cars with bikes. When it was time to head out, I grabbed a pulled pork bun from Wild Wheat Bakery [114 Picton St], knowing I’d be hungry by the time I got home.

 

Secret Pathway
Whitford Rd to Botany Rd

On the way back to Botany, Jo suggested we check out the pathway that runs parallel to Millhouse Drive and Cascades Road, linking the Meadowlands shopping centre all the way to Lloyd Elsmore Park and the Howick Historical Village via green parks. We explored just a short section, but what a revelation: secluded and peaceful, with surprising tunnels and wooden bridges, and entirely uninterrupted by busy roads. We made it safely home, determined to go back and explore the rest another day.

 

Sunday Ride is brought to you by Bike Auckland, the non-profit advocating for more people on bikes. Visit bikeauckland.org.nz for cycleway developments, bike events and resources.

 


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