This is pleasant, cruisey biking at its best. If you’re wanting an enjoyable ride for all the family, or if you’re new or returning to biking, then look no further. Te Ara o Whareroa is mostly flat with a nice, flowing sealed track hugging the inland edge of the Queen Elizabeth Park sand dunes.
The wide, sealed track, suitable for a buggy or wheelchair, winds through undulating sand dunes. This pathway is popular with all ages – school students, older people, commuters, and toddlers learning to ride.
Walkers and dogs also use the trail. Cyclists must give way to walkers. Keep left at all times!
Who it suits
This gentle track is suitable for most people, including those in pushchairs and wheelchairs. Kids will enjoy it; occasionally you may need to cajole them up the short hills. Adults unused to riding may also find the few uphills daunting – there’s no shame in getting off to walk these rare, short sections.
This is a Grade 1 track – a very good family ride, well-suited to people with low-to-moderate fitness who want to start, or get back into biking. Dogs are allowed, if kept on a lead.
How long it takes
The pathway is 6km long. An adult should take 20-30 mins to ride one way (to Raumati South). If you’re with kids or less experienced riders, allow more than one hour for the return trip.
The track can also be walked in part or full. Allow at least 2 hours for the full walk (return).
- The trail gives great views of sand dunes, coastal natives, and the layered hills inland. Mount Wainui is the prominent peak to the southeast. You may see (or hear) the occasional squawking pheasant, along with other introduced and native birds.
- Weta-spotting is a fun activity: check out the mahoe grove 1km along the track from Paekākāriki. There’s a 1km marker post – head into the trees and find the weta hotels.
- On weekends, you might see trams heading alongside the road to Whareroa Beach, and model aeroplanes operating nearby. There isn’t much shade along the pathway, but you can access the beach at Mackay’s Crossing for a swim if you’re hot.
Here are two ways to access Queen Elizabeth Park, and Te Ara o Whareroa. Both ways lead you to the same entrance, where there are gates and a map:
- Enter Queen Elizabeth Park from Wellington Road (there’s a car park near the Phoenix palms). Follow the signs along Wainui Stream till you come to an open clearing with the start of Te Ara o Whareroa.
- Park at the north end of Tilley Road, or walk from the railway station (a 20-minute walk). You’ll find good parking beside the black-and-white Whare Raranga or Weavers’ Whare. Follow the marked track over an arched bridge, and in about 100m you’ll arrive at an open clearing – this is the start of Te Ara o Whareroa.
- Look out for the mahoe grove 1km along the track to spot residents of weta hotels. After another 100m, you’ll arrive at Tī Kōuka corner. Continue straight along the main pathway.
- After 3km you’ll see the John Lancashire memorial seat and kowhai grove, a nice place for a rest. Just a few metres further on you come to Whareroa Road. There are shady trees here, and a toilet at the beach, 0.5km away.
- Continue across Whareroa Road and the tram lines, past the model aero club and a huge ancient pine tree. After crossing the small bridge, note the steep track and steps on your left. If you’re up for a fast downhill thrill on your return ride, look for the entry track about 750m to the north – veer off here on your way back to add in an awesome, short descent.
- From the steps continue along the track, enjoying all the planting that has been done by many dedicated volunteers.
- Soon you can opt for a side track on your left, to Rainbow Court and the cafes at Raumati South via Tennis Court Rd – or continue on Te Ara O Whareroa (via a short uphill) for a further 1km to Poplar Ave. From here a shared track on the far side of Poplar Ave will also take you to the cafes at Raumati South.
Toilets are available in Paekākāriki near shops on Beach Road, in Campbell Park on The Parade and also at the carpark in Queen Elizabeth Park at the end of Wellington Road. Inside the park they are at Whareroa Beach. In Raumati, they are at the entrance to the park.
Food and drink
There are options for purchasing food and drink in Paekākakāriki, Queen Elizabeth Park (limited) and Raumati South. On Beach Road, Paekākāriki, there are two cafés, a pub, fruit shop and dairy. These are all about 1.5km south from the Wellington Road entrance to Queen Elizabeth Park.
In Queen Elizabeth Park, at Mackays Crossing, there’s a kiosk at the Tram Museum that sells pre-packaged ice creams, ice blocks, chippies etc only while the trams are running – weekends and public holidays, except Christmas Day, between 11 and 4:30pm. This is around 1.5km from the end of the southern track and can be reached by foot or by tram from Whareroa Beach. In Raumati South there are cafes, a dairy and Southend Takeaways. There are more cafes further north in the bigger shopping centre of Raumati Beach.
Link with other trails
Shorter ride: After the model aero club and large pine tree, you can turn right and create a shorter ride by going along the Whareroa Stream track to the main entrance of the park. Take the Yankee Trail to return to Paekākāriki, or the easier route down Whareroa Rd to return to Te Ara o Whareroa at John Lancashire Grove.
Longer ride: If you want a longer ride on an easy off-road path, cross to the north side of Poplar Ave, turn right and follow the shared path inland, which after about 1km joins the cycle pathway alongside Kāpiti Expressway. This will take you to Peka Peka, north of Waikanae. In time, the off-road path will be extended all the way to Ōtaki.
Two more rides: To link with the Yankee Trail or Inland Track, turn off at Tī Kōuka corner. Branch right on the Yankee Trail (a steeper, rougher track) that takes you to the beautiful wetland and Marines Memorial, or turn left and join the Inland Track (steeper and more challenging than Te Ara o Whareroa).
- The access gates to Queen Elizabeth Park via Wellington Road are locked at dusk, so make sure you don’t get your car locked in (there’s a contact phone number at the gates if you need it).