St Heliers to Te Atatu South via Auckland Zoo and back: Athletic Sprint and Scenic Route
All of the cycling routes here generally take place on paved and separated cycling paths that are away from the road. In all cases I have endeavoured to only include the safest routes possible with minimal direct contact with the traffic. Mainly this is because Auckland drivers are pretty bad and it’s not a good idea to share the road with them. I even cycle on the footpath to avoid the traffic, even though this is technically not legal. I don’t care though I would rather not suffer injury.
Type of bike you will need
For tackling the hills you will need a lightweight bike with different gears, a commuter bike with lots of gears or an ebike.
Level of difficulty
Moderate – there are some big hills in this route. Unless you are super athletic in which case it’s a piece of cake.
One of those perfect, windless and sunny Auckland days with a smattering fluffy clouds. Although this route is still great all year round, even in winter there is something beautiful to see here.
What to take with you
Take some water with you, wallet, sunnies, sunscreen, something warm in case the weather turns.
Commuters, weekend visitors, people training for big cycling events. It’s a longer route and so it can be used for training.
This is a long-haul route that isn’t as scenic as the beach-side route I have previously mentioned. However makes up for this in terms of sheer distance and also some pleasant surprises in terms of nice green parts. This route snakes alongside Tamaki Drive (the scenic bit), Grafton Gully Cycleway (alongside the freeway) and North Western Motorway is great for commuting into the city or if you work or study in any of these areas Grey Lynn, Ponsonby Westmere, Pt Chevalier, Mt Albert, Te Atatu or the Waitakeres. The route is completely sealed off from the road and allows you to relax somewhat, tune out and simply enjoy the journey or the workout.
Along the way you will pass by Auckland Zoo where you can have a pit stop, park the bike and walk around. Definitely worth it if you are going on a day trip with the family. They have adorable animals including red pandas and orangutans. If you have kids they will enjoy this. I liked the exhibits and I’ve been there a few times. There is dedicated cycle ways through Western Springs Park leading to the Zoo. Of course, if you couldn’t care less about the Zoo then you don’t need to go there.
From there you head towards Te Atatu and go off the bike path when you hit Te Atatu creek. There is a lengthy park there with a dedicated shared bike and pedestrian pathway that snakes alongside the creek. It’s peaceful and pretty quiet during the day. On the weekends there are a lot of families there, in terms of the nature, it’s quite pretty.
At the end of the route in Te Atatu south you will find some pubs and cafes here. Although in terms of quality of the food and the customer service, these places leave much to be desired. I wouldn’t stop there unless you’re really desperate for water or a coffee.
As someone without a car, this route allowed me to see and explore some of these outer suburbs in the north west and west. I would never have known about these otherwise. The cycleway is mostly new and safe and is well lit at all times of day and night. I’ve only ever felt safe and happy on this path and it’s exceptional for a workout. One way is 28km so return is almost 60km – a decent epic ride!
In terms of bike hire, you will want a bike that is comfortable and light and designed for hills and long distances. I’ve only tried one bike hire place before I actually bought my bike and that was Adventure Capital. Although they mostly hire out MTB which are not really suitable for these kinds of long distance pavement only rides. They are super friendly though and reasonably priced so I recommend them.
Buying an ebike
I would like to recommend Electrify in Freeman’s Bay for this. I went to a few other bike places in Auckland and found them to be a bit vulture-like in their sales enthusiasm which put me off. Michael the Owner of Electrify is really nice and an honest guy – not overtly salesy in his approach. The bikes he stocks are all high quality. I got myself an entry-level model ebike – the Magnum Ui5 which is a popular ebike that’s designed in Germany and made in China. I paid $2,400 for it because I got a discount due to the deal I had with my electricity provider. I was initially skeptical of the ‘Made in China’ thing, however I need to now eat my words as I have commuted on this bike every single day for the past year and not had a problem. Other than that time a 4WD crashed into me, or the time I came off it after too many wines, and the times when the brake pads wore out. All the result of general wear and tear, or my own stupidity.
If you would like a bike that’s more top end, Michael sells more fancy German bikes with Bosch engines in them for a couple of grand more. See the range here.
* FYI This is not a paid endorsement for anything on this post. I simply have gotten great customer service and value for money from these people when purchasing or hiring bikes and so I want to share the love.