Auckland and Beyond
We’ve had a busy week in Auckland. We were set to leave Auckland on Thursday, but after coffee with some Auckland bicycle advocates we were persuaded to stay until the weekend to witness the first LEGAL crossing of bicycles over the Harbor bridge and we are glad we stayed. The Harbor Bridge (called the “coathanger” by some locals) connects St. Mary’s Bay in Auckland with the North shore and has been completely off limits to cyclists. There has been a growing movement to allow cyclists and pedestrians on the bridge and the Telestra Challenge ride was the first time cyclists were allowed to legally cross it. We volunteered a few days before the ride to help with registration at the University of Auckland campus. It was great fun to volunteer and we got to chat with some local cyclists about biking in Auckland.
The day of the event was a cloudy and blustery one, but it didn’t discourage the 5000 cyclists that showed up to ride. Before the ride started we got to meet Len Brown, the mayor of Auckland and got a short interview on film. He was jovial and affable and seemed like a nice guy trying to make Auckland more livable. One of the highlights of the event was to witness the protective barrier on the bridge formed by buses. It was a stunning sight and highly symbolic of the buses attempts to bridge the gap with cyclists. While it was a one time event, we certainly hope that it opens new minds about adding pedestrian and bicycling facilities.
After the official ride there was a bicycle carnival where we got to meet the Velociteers, Aucklands only synchronized bicycling group. The thing to know about Auckland is that it has a lot of cyclists, but very few who commute or are more everyday riders. Cycling is very much a sport and the idea of bike fun that is easy to take for granted in Portland hasn’t quite taken hold yet in New Zealand. But it is hopeful with groups like the Velociteers and Frocks on Bikes that an every day cycling culture will soon develop. After the end of the official happenings, we had a wonderful time at a cafe with a few of the Velociteers and Frockers.
We soon left Auckland, but not before exploring the cute suburb of Davenport. We rode up to North Head which was once a military installation with a big gun to protect against the Russians. It was beautiful riding and the top of North Head had great views of the city.
We hopped a Fullers ferry to Waiheke Island. Fullers is a local ferry operation that also operates buses on the island. They are unusual in that they are making great steps to being bicycle friendly. There is no charge for bicycles and some of their ferries now have indoor bike racks, which we haven’t even seen in the states! When we got to Waiheke, we saw that their buses had a great PSA to look out for cyclists on back. We also heard that they received a shipment of bike racks and would be piloting those soon.
The island of Waiheke is home to beautiful beaches, vineyards and mountain biking trails. On Waiheke you are either going up or down, there is very little flat road on the island. Its a beautiful but can be a challenging place to cycle if you’re not use to hills, but the leg burning is well worth it. The islands roads are a veritable roller coaster and are fun on an loaded bike. The weather hasn’t been very cooperative (where did summer go?) so we didn’t get to do as much riding as we would have liked, but what we did see was spectacular.
Tomorrow we ride out to Orapiu and hop a 360 Discovery Cruises ferry to Coromandel. We’ve heard the ride is beautiful and a great way to enter the peninsula. From Coromandel, our next stops will be Rotorua, Taupo, Napier and then down to Wellington. The holidays are coming so we’re starting to worry a little about accommodations, but since we travel so open ended its hard to make reservations. If you’ve got any leads for homestays in those areas, let us know. Episode 2 of Kiwi Chronicles will be up next Wednesday and its a good one!
(Keep our adventures going and the site growing! If you’ve enjoyed our stories, videos and photos over the years, consider buying our ebook Panniers and Peanut Butter, or our new 2012 calendar or some of the fun zombie apocalypse shirts we’re designing.)
Bob G December 14, 2011 at 2:26 pm
Sorry if I missed this before, but I dig the photo of Russ showing his rearview mirror now mounted on the right side of his helmet! I did a double-take and then the light bulb came on! I’ll support you guys whenever I can, until then, keep the dream and drive alive.
Dustin December 14, 2011 at 5:33 pm
So jealous of yall! Looking forward to following this adventure, any sort of preview of the route or highlights planned ahead?
Gwyn December 14, 2011 at 6:21 pm
Lovely entry on your adventure in auckland!
U can try http://www.helpx.net for accommodation.
Basically u work for the farmers for 3-5 hours a day (depending on their requirement) and in return you get accommodation for free.
Bike News Roundup: Critical Mass in Guadalajara is huge | Seattle Bike Blog December 15, 2011 at 11:51 am
[…] good folks at the Path Less Pedaled are in New Zealand these days, and they posted this awesome music video asking for a bike facility on a major bridge […]
Jono December 15, 2011 at 6:52 pm
I was moved to read about the buses in Auckland. I bike commute to work year round in Brooklyn, NY, and in my experience the MTA bus drivers (public transit city buses) share the road safely and courteously with bikes. Brooklyn school buses are another matter (very reckless and hostile driving and I fear for my life when school is in session). But I have such appreciation for city bus drivers.
The Trickster December 18, 2011 at 2:05 am
Jono, living here in Auckland I’d agree – professional drivers in general seem to be pretty good – sadly Joe Q Public in their SUV aren’t so good.
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Have fun in Coromandel – if you’re into this kind of thing, there is a very cool miniture train thing that climbs into the hills – the guy originally built it to get clay out of the hills for his pottery, but now does better with the train as a tourist attraction.
Also, if you get a chance, head around East Cape to Gisborne – its amazing. maybe the best way to do it would be to head from Rotorua back out to Whakatane and then around the coast – then come back inland towards Taupo via Lake Waikeremoana and Murupara and skirt through the forest to Taupo that way. Means you get to see the awesomeness that is the East Cape.