This mountain bike ride is a local gem. It winds uphill from the base of Whareroa Farm, giving you stunning views down the valley and out to sea. A gentle zigzag uphill stretch is followed by an intermediate-level, purpose-built downhill track. Near the bottom of the track you’ll find a fun, flowing ‘loop-and-bump’ section, before flying across the creek.
You will want a mountain bike for this track – road tyres will complain. The track is a mix of gravel and earth, so it can be slippery when wet – ride with care in soggy conditions.
The loop will suit older kids with mountain bike skills. Younger children will enjoy the uphill Link Track, and you can return the same way (keeping an eye out for ascending riders).
Who it suits
This is a great family track for intermediate riders – not suitable for under 8 year olds unless they have mountain biking experience. It’s also a good fun track for the solo rider.
The track involves an easy uphill section (the Link Track), with an intermediate-level descent (Red Tape Track). There is the option to take an easy route down – either the way you came up, or straight down the ridge (an honest, steep downhill if you’re in a hurry to get back).
The Link Track takes a bit longer to ride down, but is more scenic and the riding is enjoyable (its flowy and relaxing, compared to the ridge’s fast, jarring, eye-watering descent).
Dogs aren’t permitted at Whareroa Farm because of the continuing farming operations. Motorised vehicles aren’t welcome either: it’s a haven for walking and biking.
How long it takes
Depending on your skills and fitness, this track will take around 30 minutes (for an experienced, ultra-fit cyclist) to 1.5 hours (a take-your-time, smell-the-flowers bike rider). For me (kind-of-fit) and my 9-year-old, it takes just over one hour to do the full loop. The track’s distance includes 3.3km uphill, and 2.25km downhill, with a nice descent of 264m.
Allow an extra 40 minutes or so (return) to bike from Paekākāriki Village (see Transport below).
From the carpark at Whareroa Farm, follow the farm race to the Hub (check out the styley caravan, covered in beautiful, local nature-themed art), then head up the Link Track. It’s well signposted. From the Hub, you can either turn left at the bottom of the hill to cross Whareroa Stream, then head through a short, forested track – or, stick to the trail that heads straight, with a couple of stream crossings. Enjoy the Link Track’s forgiving grade, and pleasant contours.
At the top of the Link Track, you’ll arrive at the Five Ways Marine Memorial picnic table. Take a breather, have some water and snacks, and soak in the wide, 360 degree views of hills and sea. You get a good view of Paekākāriki Village. To find the Red Tape track, continue up the Link Track towards Campbell’s Mill Rd. About 200m along this track, Red Tape heads off to the right. (Take your sunnies off, and check your bike seat is nice and low.)
- This track rewards you with amazing views, and historical sites from the WWII American Marines Camp. Don’t miss the well-placed picnic table at the top of the ascent (Five Ways). The track passes through forest and across several streams. The downhill stretch has bridges over just about all the crossings except for the very last one at the bottom.
- Intensive, ongoing work by Whareroa Guardians volunteers (see section below) has already resulted in much native reforestation and stream restoration – you will hear birds who are returning to enjoy the replenished environment.
- In late summer/autumn, look out for the gorgeous wild dahlias – orange, pink, yellow, red – that grow along the hillsides of the Red Tape Track – less than halfway down the hill on your left.
History of Whareroa
In the first half of the 1800s, a kāinga (settlement) was located at Whareroa, and Māori used the area for horticulture, particularly kūmara-growing. In 1850, Alexander MacKay leased, then bought, the land for sheep farming.
Almost 100 years later, US Marines were based here during the Pacific campaigns of World War Two. Soon after, the area became a public farm-park, managed by the Department of Lands and Survey. In 1987 Landcorp, a state-owned enterprise, took over and closed the farm to the public.
In the early 2000s, the Kāpiti community became aware of plans to sell Whareroa Farm to developers for a housing subdivision. The Guardians of Whareroa (see below) were formed to advocate for continued public ownership of the land. Their efforts succeeded: in 2005 the government bought the land and transferred it to the Department of Conservation (DOC).
These days, DOC works closely with the Whareroa Guardians to develop this special place into an amazing site for recreation, education and farming.
You’ll find a carpark at Whareroa Farm, Mackay’s Crossing. Take the Queen Elizabeth Park exit off State Highway 1, about five minutes drive north of Paekākāriki.
Better yet, ride from Paekākāriki railway station, or elsewhere in the village, through Queen Elizabeth Park from the end of Tilley Rd to Whareroa Farm, via the Yankee Trail (link). It’s an easy, lovely journey from the village by bike; you’ll get the enjoyment of riding for longer – and less stress by avoiding the highway drive and the need to load bikes on and off a car.
Toilets are provided at Whareroa Farm carpark, at the start of the track, and also at the Hub area – just before you start heading uphill.
Food and drink
The closest shops are at Paekākāriki Village.
- For seasoned cyclists this is a no-brainer, but it’s useful for newbies to know. It is really worth putting your seat down for the downhill. It makes it way easier to move your weight back if you need to, and you won’t be sitting down.
- Also, don’t forget to turn your suspension on: the downhill is bumpy!
- Mobile coverage should generally be available throughout this ride.
- A tip from us locals: This is a great evening ride. Watch the sun set into the ocean from up at the Five Ways picnic area – then dive into the bush for a fast descent.
- Do ensure valuables are out of site when parking in the Whareroa Farm carpark and park in view of the Expressway if you can, the carpark can be targeted by thieves.
Whareroa Guardians Community Trust works to help protect and develop Whareroa Farm as a reserve for environmental and heritage conservation and public enjoyment. Volunteers and/or new members of the trust are welcome any time.
Tasks for volunteers include planting, weeding, stream restoration and pest control. Tens of thousands of native trees and plants have been planted over the years, transforming the farmland setting into a restored paradise. Regular working bees are held on Sunday mornings. Contact the Whareroa Guardians
Read Goose summer, Whareroa Farm by Michael Keith