Pauatahanui Loop

By Joshu Mountjoy

A mid-length road ride that takes in varied, picturesque scenery. Start by climbing Paekākāriki Hill! This is a short – but steep – sustained pitch to approximately 230m above sea level with awesome views over the Kāpiti Coast. Next you’re rewarded with a nice flowing downhill all the way to Battle Hill Farm Park, then on to spot estuary birds at the expansive Pauatahanui Inlet. Return via Plimmerton and Pukerua Bay.

Check out the amazing life in the rockpools off Centennial Highway if it’s low tide. Very soon you’ll be back in Paekākāriki for some recovery liquid.

Who it suits

The route includes three not-too-challenging hills (Paekākāriki Hill is a steep one but doesn’t last too long – less than half an hour). A moderate level of fitness is required. You can face strong headwinds in a brisk northerly, which is not unheard of. Suitable for adults and teens, but not younger children.

This best suits a road bike, touring bike or hybrid bike. You can do it on a mountain bike, but off-road tyres will be slow, so allow longer. Perfect for electric bikes.

How long it takes

All up it’s about 37km. Allow at least 2-3 hours depending on fitness, bike and wind combo.


The views from Paekākāriki Hill are outstanding. At Battle Hill you’ll find a historic site with good picnic areas and bush walks. In late summer you can also find plump, juicy blackberries along the roadside.

Good places for rest breaks include the top of Paekākāriki Hill, Battle Hill, Pauatahanui, and Pukerua Bay.


The route can be done clockwise or anticlockwise, but we suggest clockwise. From the village, cross State Highway One (carefully!) and head up to the summit of Paekākāriki Hill Road. Make sure to have a rest stop and soak in the sweeping views. Follow on down the valley road for a long gentle downhill – look out for fast cars and motorbikes. The valley eventually flattens out and is a nice rural ride with mostly 60 km/hr road speeds.

18 km from Paekākāriki, turn right around the Pauatahanui Inlet and follow Grays Road. Follow the inlet around, then turn right at the traffic lights back towards the north. At the big roundabout just after the lights you should turn left off the highway onto Ulric Street and follow the smooth sealed cycle track, Ara Harakeke, that starts at the end of this road and takes you all the way to Pukerua Bay. From Pukerua Bay to Paekākāriki you are on Centennial Highway for a while but can ride on the footpath which is usually pretty good.


If you tank out by the end of Grays Road you can catch the train back to Paekākāriki (bikes are free but some peak-hour trains don’t take bikes, and if buses are replacing trains, which happens on some weekends, they don’t take bikes either). There are train stations at both Pukerua Bay (cross SH1 on the pedestrian footbridge) and Plimmerton. Car parking on residential streets at both ends.


Toilets and water are available at Pauatahanui and Pukerua Bay, and toilets are provided by the Plimmerton railway station underpass.

Food and drink

Café and dairy at Pauatahanui and Plimmerton, which are both just off the route.


  • Watch for traffic on the Paekākāriki Hill Road. A clockwise direction is recommended as you are on the outside of the road around Pauatahanui Inlet and therefore more visible.
  • Mobile coverage is variable.

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