Over my two summers so far living in Napier, I’d not quite made it to Waipataki Beach and its camping ground. Recently bought by the local councils to ensure that it was kept open for locals, I decided it must be worth a visit. The original plan was to load up my bike and ride that bike to work one Friday morning and then after work ride to Waipataki – I figured this would be easily achievable before dark in the summer. However, that never quite worked out and the Friday after work plan was discarded when daylight savings ended.
With a brilliant autumn weekend forecast, I readied myself and shortly after lunch on Saturday set off on a little adventure to explore somewhere new. In actuality not much of the route was new – I avoided the highway as much as possible and took the long route up Waipunga Rd. Waipunga Rd being a favourite route of mine when I was trying to get at least a little ready for Tour Aotearoa.
Leaving the Hill behind, over Westshore Bridge I followed my commute route for ten or so kilometres.
What’s this? Offshore power boat racing. That’s different. Not to mention loud, fast and repetitive.
I was heading for the coast in the far distance, just right of centre in this shot.
The crossing of the Esk is at the start of Waipunga Rd, before the hills start. It’s looking a bit lower than a couple of weeks previous, when we had 200 mm of rain in less than forty-eight hours at work (process water at work is taken from the Esk).
In the mid-afternoon sun (warming enough to only need arm warmers in addition to shirt), the climbing began – as did the views of rolling green hills and distant ranges.
The largest part of the climb ascends this ridge from right to left, steadily gaining about three hundred metres. It’s very nice.
I really enjoyed the gradual climb – stopping often to snap photos to share.
On top of the ridge, the road surface changes to gravel while the climbing slackens off markedly. With no traffic, the warming sun and the changing views it was blissful.
Eventually, the road starts to roll up and down a bit more – gradually climbing overall.
I paused at the end of Waipunga Rd to look north – this was as far north as my route would go, and also the highest altitude. I had five hundred metres to lose in the twenty kilometres to the coast.
I turned right onto Kaiwaka Rd – more lush gravel! I headed for the highway to cross it.
The sun sunk further, setting nicely on this rather out of place patch of toetoe.
More hills – thankfully I didn’t have to ride them all.
I kept a watchful eye on my shadow as I lost altitude quickly.
It seems one can’t really escape work – the pulpmill steaming away on the right; Napier easily visible stretching left across the water, the hills south of Havelock North in the distance.
I said my goodbyes to cell coverage with one big downhill, a few hairpins and cool rushing air as I blasted down to Waipataki and the sea.
That was a great little ride (three hours, a shade under sixty kilometres) in the hills to get to a new spot. Checking in and setting up my little tent, it was time for a wander down to the beach in the last of the light.
First I had to work out how to cross the stream.
Big stepping stones helped, I didn’t fall in; just.
I gazed off over the Pacific (which I can easily do a few hundred metres from home admittedly, but it’s different when there’s no one else around, no houses, no city…) and wondered what might be over there – more new places to explore one day, no doubt.
Darkness overtaking the campground, I cooked my modest dinner, and gratefully accepted three large lamb chops from a couple that had brought too much food; funny, I never have that problem. I found a book and settled down in the warm of the lounge to read for a while before retiring to my tent. Thinking over the afternoon I fell into an excellent night’s sleep.
Up before dawn, I strolled down to the beach in the cool of the morning, found a better place to cross the stream and waited for the sun to rise.
Having cooked and eaten my porridge, I waited a little for the first of the sun’s rays to rise over the cliffs and dry my tent some. I was happy to do so as I still had a book to read.
It quickly became apparent that it was to be another stunning autumn day.
All packed up and ready to ride, I resolved that I must plan a two-night stay sometime so as to explore the many walks and some biking possibilities.
Pedaling up the driveway, the day’s only sizable hill rose in front of me.
It was easily conquered and I was soon on the highway and on the short route home.
The highway gets rather close to the coast and the puffing pulpmill comes back into view.
And just like that I was nearly home, back on my commute route.
A fantastic little ride from home with plenty of wonderful distractions and more discoveries for me.