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TRAVEL & LEISURE

The Eight Best Bike Rides in Auckland

On yer bike.
By Sarah Murphy
March 31, 2016
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By Sarah Murphy
March 31, 2016
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Sometimes it's all about the journey and sometimes it's the little stops along the way that make a ride the best thing since sliced bread. In the concrete playground we call Auckland there are two things that all great rides involve: swimming and eating. Pump up your tyres and convince a mate to tag along, you'll wonder why you don't ride more often. On yer bike, here are eight of the best bike rides in Auckland.

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northwestern

Image credit: Bike Auckland

Northwestern Cycleway

No points for guessing where the Northwestern Cycleway will take you. The full cycleway is 9km long but I'd take the entrance just next to the Bond Street bridge on the Kingsland side to begin your journey. After you've finished a hearty and healthy breakfast at Monday's in Kingsland, head towards Bond Street and veer right and down the hill just before you reach the bridge. You'll head alongside the motorway and up past Unitec before crossing the water and riding up towards the Te Atatu Peninsula.

This ride is a perfect Sunday go-slow outing with friends but is also very family friendly so bring the little ones along, it could even be the perfect way to spend some quality time with the little ones in your family who you never quite manage to see enough of.

Great stops along the way include The Waterview Coffee Project, a cafe in a shipping container just a few minutes off the track on Daventry St. Once you're over the waterway stop in for lunch at The Luscious Food Store - a gem of a cafe that sources locally grown produce and organic meats where possible.

Divert at Great North Road to head towards the Avondale market for a Sunday morning of bargain hunting at one of Auckland's favourite markets.

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nelson street cycleway

Image credit: AT

Te Ara I Whiti - Lightpath

It's the talk of the town, you either love it or hate it but either way you probably can't deny that the pink path makes your commute from Upper Queen to Downtown just that extra bit fabulous.

Although everyone knows it as 'the pink path' its given name is Te Ara I Whiti, which translates to the Lightpath. Not only does its bright pink flooring light up the city but it has interactive lights that run the distance of the path.

This one's great to impress the kids and to get them excited about cycling, it's also Auckland's most ambitious cycle path to date so that's a fun fact for them to share with their classmates - to be honest though, they are probably more hyped by the fluorescent pink than anything else.

Now, of course, I'm not one to promote unsafe riding but the pink path makes a great space to practice some handsfree riding, it will be just like you're Rose from Titanic, except you're not on a ship and Leonardo DiCaprio probably doesn't have his arms wrapped around you.

If you've got friends from far away places spending some time in Auckland, why not hire a city bike and take them on a night out. Start at Upper Queen and make your way down the pink path and carry on the cycle path to Silo Park for night markets and food trucks.

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waiheke2

Image credit: Redstar

Waiheke Island

Auckland's favourite weekend getaway spot is also a great spot to go riding. One of the best ways to experience Waiheke Island is with friends and there's no better way to explore than on two wheels.

Jump on the ferry with your bike at no extra cost, or hire a bike once you hit land and step onto the wharf. I wouldn't recommend taking your trendy fixie. Despite the fact that I still don't understand how you ride around the steep streets of the city, I can assure you, you won't have much fun when those hills are also gravel. Hiring a bike means you'll get all the comforts of a mountain bike and can have a trusty little map mounted to the handle bars, how's that for convenience?

There are also great maps available to help you find your way around and if you plan out your day in advance you can make sure to take the right paths to lead you to wherever your heart desires, be that an art gallery, beach or vineyard. The 'Beach/Wine Lovers Trail' will take you about three and a half hours through the vines to Onetangi and once again is one of those rides that can end in a swim if you so desire. Further rides include the Easy Life Loop, Nature Trail, Stony Batter Trail and the Rangihou Mountain Bike Track.

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mangere_bridge_cycling

Dominion Rd - Onehunga - Mangere Bridge

Riding down Dominion Road is an experience in itself, I can't think of better way to take in all of the sights and smells and scout for your next cheap dinner. Make your way down one of Auckland's favourite strips and head towards the motorway where you will ride alongside the frustrated drivers and down to the Manukau Harbour. From there and after a mandatory dip in the ocean, head across the bridge to Mangere and along the water's edge all the way to Ambury Farm Park. Or of course you can always finish at Villa Maria if that's more your kind of reward.

This ride is definitely a must-do and a favourite among the city's riding community. If you are tired after this epic day out, you can always ride back to Onehunga and catch the train back into the city, I promise you won't lose brownie points.

If you are more into slow rides expending as little energy as possible while still feeling like you are working your body, this is not the ride for you. Expect to work up a bit of a sweat.

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woodhillforest

Image credit: AucklandNZ

Woodhill Forest

One for all the adventure seekers out there, for the daredevils who like to get down and dirty in the mud, who love to push themselves and who enjoy spending time in nature. Ok, so I may be amping things up a little, and yes, mountain biking can be all that, but it is as extreme as you want it to be.

Riding fast down steep hills in the forest and attempting not to break another bone is one thing, riding through the forest on a path that has twists and turns and the odd jump if you dare is another. Woodhill Forest caters for both and would have to be one of the most accessible selection of mountain biking tracks in the city.

This forest is the home of mountain biking in Auckland and this is the perfect way to spend a drizzly Auckland weekend. Spending all day riding in the rain is typically a fun thing to do, especially in the inner city with cars splashing even more water onto you, but mountain biking in the rain is a whole other ball game.

Check the Woodhill website for trail updates before you head out for the day.

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Image credit: Michael Lawton, BikeRaveAKL

Tamaki Drive

One of Auckland's trusty off-road cycle paths is the waterfront to Mission Bay path, another one for all of the romantic riders out there and great if you're planning on getting back into riding after years out of practice.

You'll pass people shredding along on roller blades, lovers walking hand in hand and kids attempting to eat their ice-cream before it melts in the summer sun.

A gorgeous ride at anytime of the day but certainly amazing at sunset after a hard day's work, with views out to Rangitoto and the harbour lulling you into a blissful state of denial. I'm sure your job isn't all that bad. A sunset ride is never complete without a healthy dose of fish 'n' chips on the beach at the end so this ride certainly ticks that off the list.

If you ever get the chance make sure you head along to one of the Bike Raves, hundreds of riders head along this very path in the dark on bikes decked out in whatever amazing lights they can find, the music pumping and dressing up is never frowned upon - good luck topping the Skyower helmet though, that was really something else.

Image credit: Redstar

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devonport

Image credit: Antoine Pethers

Auckland CBD - Devonport - Takapuna

Another great weekend ride takes you from downtown Auckland across the ferry to Devonport and then on a scenic route to the Takapuna beachside.

You'll ride over boardwalks, bridges and through parks so pack a picnic and head out on a day when the sun is shining. This ride is definitely a summer gem, with beaches at both Devonport and Takapuna, you would be best to pack a towel and some togs, the urge to swim will most definitely be strong.

If you are needing inspiration for a bike date, you could always start your ride at Takapuna and plan to end up on North Head at sunset for a picnic dinner taking in the views out to the city. Who said bike rides can't be romantic? Of course, the ferry ride isn't completely necessary but if you are heading from downtown Auckland or simply want to extend the ride then it's a great option.

If you think that these bike rides involve a lot of ferries I can assure you that not all of Auckland's best rides involve water transport. This one does. We live on an island, let's make the most of it.

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tamaki1

Image credit: Redstar

Britomart - Half Moon Bay - Auckland CBD

This is one for the more adventurous rider, a ride perfect for inner city bike gangs and one of the epic missions you can only do on two wheels.

This is not a ride for the faint of heart, this is a long ride and will take you a fair few hours. It also may result in very sore legs the next day so if you aren't much of a rider you may feel parts of your body you've never felt before.

Head from Britomart along Tamaki Drive towards the aforementioned Mission Bay and basically just keep going. Follow the shoreline past St Heliers, along Riddell Road and take a left onto Roberta Ave once you get through Glendowie. Follow your nose - or the trusty Google Maps - towards Point England Reserve all of the way down to the water at Lagon Drive near the Panmure Basin. From there cross over the water and follow the shore line left all the way past the Pakuranga Sailing Club and down and around until you make to the Half Moon Bay ferry terminal. Yes that's right ALL the way around. Jump on the ferry and enjoy the sweet, sweet ride back to the city.

Like I said, this ride is not for the faint of heart. If you are still reading and thinking "yeah I could do that" make sure your phone is charged before heading out, Google Maps will be your best friend, as will water, food and stamina.

Good luck and enjoy your mission.

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Published on March 31, 2016 by Sarah Murphy

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