An easy 8.5km cycle, starting at the southern end of Paekākāriki beside the Fisherman’s Table restaurant and finishing at the Pukerua Bay shops. A wide, sealed path between State Highway One and the rocky coast. You can return the same way, or catch the next train to return to your starting point.
The path is raised but there is no barrier between it and the road – so probably not a suitable ride for young children.
Highlights include spotting the Escarpment walkers high above – or even an orca, if you’re lucky. The ride is flat – except for the short, moderate incline to the Pukerua Bay lookout. The amazing coastal view that greets you is well worth the effort. Stop here, atop the hill, for a break to admire the huge sea-and-island views. Watch the horizon for a glimpse of the mountains Taranaki or Ruapehu which you can spot far-off on a clear day.
Who it suits
An easy flat ride, apart from the short moderate rise to the Pukerua Bay lookout. Suitable for most fitness levels. Most types of bike will be fine.
The path is wide, slightly raised, and sealed. However, it runs alongside State Highway One without a barrier, so probably not suited to children or to less-confident bike riders. The path is shared with pedestrians, though there are usually few. There is occasional debris from the sea (driftwood, pumice) or road (glass) to navigate. Once in Pukerua Bay there are a few streets to cross.
Dogs are allowed on a lead.
How long it takes
It’s an 8.5km jaunt, one way, which should take around 30 minutes in one direction, and an hour or so return. Take longer to enjoy the views, rock pools, or a sea swim at either end.
From the shops in Paekākāriki, head towards the beach and turn left up Ames St. At the end of Ames St, take the footpath (shared with pedestrians) on the right side of State Highway 1 to Fisherman’s Table. From there, you’ll join the footpath that runs all the way along the sea, with SH1 on your left. Once past the Pukerua Bay lookout, follow the path across Pa Road. The path veers from alongside the highway and turns right to wind a short way up through bush and onto Haunui Road. Turn left and down the hill to rejoin the path beside the highway. It’s a short distance to the overbridge to access Pukerua Bay Railway Station, or continue further up the hill to the Pukerua Bay shops, toilets, and the beginning of Ara Harakeke – the path toward Plimmerton.
- Most walkers take the Escarpment Track along the steep hillside above this ride. It can be fun to spot them puffing up the ‘Stairway to Heaven’, or negotiating the two swing bridges toward the southern end.
- If you are lucky, you may see orca chasing stingrays along the coast.
- Stop at one of several vehicle laybys and check out the rockpools. Scout around the rockpools, but leave all as you find it – there is a rāhui in place prohibiting collection.
- Wave to people on the train, and count the five railway tunnels: Pukerua, St Kilda, Seaview, Brighton, and Neptune.
- Enjoy the amazing view from the Pukerua Bay lookout. Kāpiti Island dominates the horizon, and on a clear day mountains may be seen either side of it, Taranaki to the south, and Ruapehu to the north. Parts of the South Island are visible as well. Table-topped Mana Island is tucked around the southern corner, but is clearly seen along the pathway on your approach to Pukerua Bay.
This area is well-serviced by trains. Take the train to either Paekākāriki or Pukerua Bay and bike from there – either one-way and train back, or bike both ways.
Or you’ll find car parking on residential streets at both ends of the ride.
Toilets are located at Paekākāriki Village (Beach Road), Pukerua Bay shops, and down the hill at Pukerua Bay beach.
Food and drink
Paekākāriki offers the Perching Parrot Café, Beach Road Deli, Finns Restaurant, and the Fisherman’s Table for coffee, drinks and meals.
Or stop at Paekakariki Village Grocery Store for picnic drinks and snacks. There is also a dairy at Pukerua Bay.
- Take water with you. There are no public water fountains at either end.
- There is no shade, but if if you’re feeling a little hot it’s easy to access the beach at either end of the path for a swim.
- Carry your usual cycle-repair kit – it’s a long walk if you get a puncture, with few places where motorists could stop to assist you
- The track is shared with pedestrians, though it’s rare to come across them (Te Araroa Trail, the nation-wide walking track, heads over the Escarpment Track).
- There’s good mobile phone coverage throughout.
Read Centennial by Sarah Bainbridge