I know I’ve said it before, but we are so lucky in Hawke’s Bay having such a wide variety of cycling opportunities right on our doorstep. From pathways between wineries to river rides through orchards to coastal rides and mountain bike parks, we have it all!
One of the crown jewels in the Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trail network is the Water Ride section comprising of several loop rides around Napier’s waterfronts and waterways.
We rode two of the most popular loops on the Water Ride section for this review, the Ahuriri to Bay View loop and the Puketapu loop, check them out.
Ahuriri Village, Pandora Pond, Westshore Beach, Ahuriri Lagoon, Tutaekuri River, Vicarage Road Bridge, Redclyffe Bridge
Gin Trap, Thirsty Whale, Shed 2, Westshore Surf Lifesaving toilets, Snapper Café, Crab Farm Winery, Mission Estate Winery, Subway @ Pettigrew Green Arena (Toilets too), Puketapu Pub
Grade 1, easy riding on concrete and limestone pathways for 80% of the ride, 20% on roadside with dedicated cycle lanes. Find out more about grades here
50kms in length
3:30 ride time
This inspired ride review is sponsored by Takaro Trails Cycle Tours.
Takaro trails are an award-winning bike rental, shuttle and cycle tour provider based in Hawke’s Bay.
They do it all;
- Single and multi-day bike tours
- Casual bike hires
- Quality touring bikes & helmets for all sizes & abilities
- The latest E-bikes
- Experienced and knowledgeable guides
- Easy and diverse cycle routes to match your interests – wineries, food, art deco, nature & the great outdoors!
- On-ride back-up and support
- Transfers to and from your accommodation
Please support those that support us and check out their special deals for your next Hawke’s Bay cycle adventure.
The Water Ride
The Water Ride trails are the most popular rides on the Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trails according to Karen @ Takaro Trails. She tells me that their most popular route is from Takaro Trails out to Bay View and then back to Puketapu before being picked up by shuttle, so that is exactly what we did.
Takaro Trails kitted us out with their awesome Avanti Metro E City e-bikes, complete with handlebar and pannier bags and lights. We found these bikes comfortable throughout the ride with easy-to-use controls and powerful Bosch motors giving us a good boost along the trail.
As we set off along West Quay in Ahuriri we passed several excellent options for dining on the deck at either the Gin Trap, Thirsty Whale or Shed 2, but today for our first stop, we are heading out to Snapper Café in Bay View for a coffee.
At the end of West Quay is Te Matau a Māui, a waka hourua (traditional double-hulled voyaging waka). Rounding the corner you will head out to Westshore and out onto the waterfront heading towards Bay View.
The pathway along the Westshore coast is a popular section, if you cast your view back towards Ahuriri occasionally you will see why.
A little further along this section you will see a mention of the Northumberland shipwreck in 1885 embedded into the pathway, apparently the 85mtr long vessel was carrying a cargo of coal which occasionally still washes up on shore to this day.
Not too much further down the pathway, you will transition to the road before arriving at the Napier Beach Holiday Park and the home of Snapper Café, our first pitstop for the ride. Snapper Café has good bike parking out front, and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating in the courtyard. The coffee is good and gives us a little boost for the next section of the ride. They also have a good selection of food if you are stopping for a bite, and booze, if that’s your thing.
If you are looking for an iconic Hawke’s Bay winery experience on your ride, Crab Farm is just around the corner. This place has a cool rustic charm and is a very popular dining destination in Hawke’s Bay, so it may pay to book a spot in advance.
Heading back towards Ahuriri, we turn inland heading towards Rorookuri which used to be an island (and the Otiere Pā site) before the earthquake of 1931 and subsequent drainage emptied the Ahuriri Lagoon. Here you will pass through these wetlands past a few old lighthouses before you go around the Airport to Watchman Road. If it is high tide you may want to ride down Watchman as the Pandora Pond bridge underpasses can be flooded when the tide is high.
Here we said goodbye to Karen and Lucy as we crossed the bridge and headed back out into the lagoon towards Taradale. As you pedal around the Taipo Stream, there are some interesting bird watching opportunities and an abundance of wetland birdlife.
After you pass the Parklands reserve, you head down Church Road, where you have another iconic Hawke’s Bay winery, Mission Estate. Established in 1851, making it New Zealand’s oldest Winery, Mission Estate has a fascinating history and is well worth a visit if you are passing.
Moving on from the Mission, you head south, skirting Taradale town on your way to Pettigrew Green Arena where you transition back onto limestone trails again. If you need a bathroom break, there are toilets next to the Subway. Over the riverbank is a dirt jump park which on occasion offers up some interesting entertainment, watching the local kids “send it” over big jumps.
As you ride alongside the Tutaekuri River on the riverbank, you get a great view of some of the working orchards in the area. As you go through the final gate and head back out towards the road, that is your signal that the Puketapu hotel is not far away. The Puketapu offers a fantastic “Kiwi pub lunch” option, with plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. This is one of our favourite ride destinations. Just don’t load up with too much booze (or food) if you are planning on the return ride.
After our lunch stop and leg rest, we crossed the river over the Vicarage Road Bridge and headed back to the Pettigrew Green Arena to meet Tony for our Takaro Trails shuttle pick up.
As a single ride this was a pretty big day out for us, totalling around 50kms. For shorter, more bite sized rides, you could do the Bay View loop or the Puketapu loop on their own. Additionally, there is another section on the Water ride that we didn’t do on this trip that takes you around Awatoto via the Waitangi Regional Park and the Ātea a Rangi Star Compass. It’s well worth a visit.
Thanks again to Takaro Trails for sponsoring this inspired ride review.