Much better for cycling than its reputation may lead you to believe, though you do need to be careful. I spent my first year in Auckland without a car, and cycling really helped me understand and appreciate the place. Here are some of my favourite routes…
Waiheke Wharf to Wharf, 48km
Waiheke is a great spot for cycling, with not much traffic and easy navigation, though the roads, particularly the hills, can be a little tricky / hard work. It’s free to take your bike on the ferry, make your way out to the other end of the island for a great day trip. Route gets particularly good / hard past Onetangi with four rather sizeable hills, but very little traffic and some of the best views on the island.
Big city loop, 70-85km
Cover the city, the Shore and West Auckland in one big ride. Can be done in either direction but think its best start with the ferry over to Devonport, otherwise you’ll do it on the way back and cool down before getting back on your bike. Lots of variation to this loop, the shortest version (shown) goes over the Upper Harbour Bridge, a longer version takes you through Riverhead, even longer version is through Coatesville, with the added attraction of fresh fruit ice cream.
Mangere loop, 35km
Understandably one of the most popular cycling routes in Auckland, thanks to a general lack of traffic and proximity to the city, while able to get out into countryside. Nice coastal section along to Ambury Regional Park and across the causeway to Puketutu Island. The Manukau foreshore pathway at the bottom of Onehunga is also rather good.
Musick Point, 24km
Head out to and along Bucklands Beach via Sunnyhills, to be rewarded at Musick Point with lovely views and an Art Deco radio station. Once you get through Panmure it gets very cycle friendly and enjoyable.
Henderson Twin Streams, 11km
A flat and scenic short cycle along the rivers into and out of Henderson, through some nice bush and along good tracks. A better version of the map.
At the other end of the spectrum I’d recommend not cycling down Great South Road to Highbrook. Looked ok on the cycle map, but in reality is a truck filled death run not to be repeated!
Personally I’m not a big fan of Tamaki Drive despite it being the most popular road for cyclists in the country. Flat and lovely views but there is a lot going on in terms of pedestrians, runners, cyclists and cars, requiring care and attention despite the cycling lanes (which tend to disappear from the road at tight spots).