Where to ride out west: A family explores Te Atatu South and Henderson by bike

Sunday ride

On a recent Sunday morning after a week of rain, Violet van Muller, her wife Maya and son Jules headed off on a bike adventure out west, with fun stops for both mums and son along the way.  

As Christmas presents to ourselves, my wife Maya and I decided to buy some inexpensive bicycles to encourage exercise and family bonding. We bought a detachable seat for our four-year-old son Jules to join in on the action. Maya also likes to ride to work on fine mornings while dropping Jules off to kindy on the way. He loves the thrill of sitting on the front of our bike and flying down the hills.

To Henderson Creek

We’re fortunate to have a bike path at the bottom of our street in Te Atatu South, which leads to the great Northwestern Cycleway, stretching from Lincoln Road to the city. Just west of the famous Te Atatu underpass, there’s a turnoff onto Henderson Creek shared path that follows the creek. It’s a safe, off-street route for riders and walkers alike – surrounded by native trees, large open grass areas, pit stops with exercise equipment, and places to feed the ducks.

Along Henderson Creek to Tui Glen

We rode an easy 20 minutes from our house to Tui Glen Reserve along the river. There were some short hills along the way, for a bit of a challenge, and thrilling little bridges to ride over and under. Arriving at Tui Glen was the highlight for our wee one, with its spectacular playground complete with twin flying foxes, a sandpit and supersized slides.

Tui Glen Reserve to The Falls cafe

After a play at the park, we followed our noses along a beautiful yellow bridge running high over Henderson Creek. We stopped on the bridge for a photo op and enjoyed looking down at the flowing waters beneath. A right turn takes you to the West Wave swimming pool, which is a family favourite, but on this winter’s day we hung a left and opted for a hot chocolate at The Falls [22 Alderman Dr]. This charming cafe/restaurant occupies an 1870s heritage building, surrounded by a large grassy area with statues and information for visitors about the unique history of Henderson.

To Henderson Valley Rd

After learning about local history and quenching our thirst at the delightful cafe, we got back on our bikes and rode behind West Wave to reconnect with the path running alongside Henderson Creek. Going under Sel Peacock Drive is exciting in itself for children as the cars driving overhead sound like thunder. The path took us behind Pak N’ Save and directly to the intersection of Great North and Henderson Valley Roads. From there, it’s a short few minutes along the footpath to Whoa! Studios [8-14 Henderson Valley Rd].

Along Henderson Valley Rd

This is a fantastic new attraction with children’s shows running all day and a unique playground featuring the Woah! web, New Zealand’s only crochet play net. We stopped here for a delicious lunch followed by their homemade specialty ice creams, while the playground and play net provided endless entertainment for Jules. We’ll be back for one of the shows another time!

Save something for next time

Whoa! is a stone’s throw away – via a safe bike path – from the funky Corban Estate Arts Centre [426 Great North Rd], which is home to events, working artists, an artsy shop and a wee cafe. Henderson town centre offers plenty of lunch options, and if you’re keen to arrive or continue by train (bikes go free!) the station is right there. And just where we stopped, the Twin Streams pathways begin, taking you along the Opanuku and Oratia Streams. So many possibilities for future family adventures!

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.