A 35km loop cycle around Napier, the Water Ride is an almost entirely flat and particularly pleasant way to explore the area. I cycled it in an anti-clockwise direction from central Napier, south along the coast, inland to an historic Māori pa, then north past wineries, and back out to the water to return to the city.
I hired a bike for the day on Marine Parade, on a beautiful autumn day.
The coastal path offered a varied start, with piled driftwood, huge murals on the side of the National Aquarium of New Zealand, odd either sculptural or industrial constructions, and toward the turn off inland the huge WoolWorks New Zealand Limited factory.
I turned inland just before the lovely Waitangi Regional Park, which I’d visited at sunset the previous day. It is home to the stunning Ātea a Rangi Star Compass, which displays Māori carvings relating to the points of the compass.
From here the path travels along by Tutaekuri River, and I felt déjà vu from cycling in Holland.
The river widens significantly before Otatara Pā Historic Reserve.
This is one of the best examples of these historic fortifications in New Zealand, which were the most highly sought after in Hawke’s Bay and the site of numerous battles. Parts of the complex have been rebuilt, giving an idea of the scale of the place.
The well sided path then heads north through the built-up suburb of Taradale, along Church Road, home to Church Road Winery and Mission Estate Winery. This marae entrance at the university caught my eye.
The best was still to come, cycling along by the beautiful Taipo Stream.
This heads out to Ahuriri Estuary, which is filled with migratory birds at certain times of the year.
Civilisation starts to return as the path heads around the bustling waterfront and past the port before ending back in central Napier after a great day on the bike, earning a huge ice cream after returning the bike.