NORTH WESTERN CYCLEWAY
Terrain: Mixed - steady climbs at beginning & end, flat in the central section
The North Western Cycleway is one of Auckland's most well know and busiest commuter cycleways. It now extends 20 kilometres from the city centre out towards Westgate, and connects to numerous other cycleways and local paths.
Plenty of wayfinding signage means little chance of getting lost, plus path is well used by a range of people so will always be someone to ask. Just note that much of the path is a shared path, and is popular with strollers, running and dog walkers, so watch out for others and don't expect to ride too fast, especially on the inner sections.
This ride starts off at the Viaduct. After carefully riding past the bars and restaurants, turn left into Market Place. The cycleway starts immediately before the Fanshawe/Sturdee/Hobson Street intersection. The cycleway starts off uni-directional climbing steeply up to Victoria Street. Here cross the intersection on a diagonal, and the cycleway becomes bi-directional, and the cycleway continues to steadily climb up Hobson Street. After crossing the Union Street intersection, you''ll find yourself on the famous and unique Pink Path, which takes you through Spaghetti Junction, riding high above the traffic. You'll get great views down towards the harbour, as well as over the city centre & isthmus. All too soon & the ride will be over and you'll be out on Canada Street, overlooking the construction site of the future Karangahape Road station. Head up towards Upper Queen Street, but watch out for short but very steep section up to the motorway overbridge.
The North Western Cycleway properly starts at the Upper Queen Street bridge. Ride the dedicated cycleway down IanMcKinnon Drive and through Suffolk Reserve. This will take you onto the quiet back streets of Kingsland and Morningside, nestled between New North Road and the North Western Motorway. The path here is a mix of very light traffic streets and sections of shared path. At St Lukes Road, cross the street and follow the path between Chamberlain Park Golf Course and the motorway. This curves around to join Sutherland Road, a quiet cul-de-sac. At Carrington Road, cross at the zebra you'll see on your left, head right up Carrington Road for 50 metres. You'll see a path on your left heading through Unitec, in front of the historic former hospital building. You'll soon come across another iconic cycle bridge, the rainbow bridge.
Cross the overbridge you'll see on the right, this will take you safely over Great North and onto the causeway section of the cycleway. The next 7km of the cycleway are probably the best cycleway in Auckland. You won't come across a car once, and there is barely any elevation change. Plus there are great views across the Whau estuary and Henderson Rivers, and glimpses of the Waitemata over the motorway. There is even an underpass under Te Atatu Road, so won't be stuck with the usual long waits for traffic lights at motorway interchanges.
The causeway section finishes at Lincoln Road, which unfortunately requires 4 seperate traffic lights to cross. Once you've made it across (allow 3 - 4 minutes!) you'll be onto the new section which heads up to Westgate. This features a steady climb up towards Westgate, and a 3 stage crossing at Royal Road. The cycleway finishes soon after you pass under the Yellow pedestrian & bike bridge over the motorway. Here you're only 150 metres from the Westgate Shopping Centre, though not to be confused with the NorthWest Shopping Centre, which is a further 500 metres to the north.
Stops along the way.
The main downside of the Northwestern Cycleway is the limited number of stopping places along the way. However there are few places to stop along the way.
When you cross St Lukes Road, Motat & Western Springs Park are only 300 metres away across Great North Road, and the zoo a further 500 metres away.
At Carrington Road, Point Chevalier town centre is just around the corner, which has a range of cafes, eating places and bars.
If you're after coffee or brunch, then Little Sister is a good bet. Straight after crossing Henderson Creek you'll see path coming off to your left, which should point to Central Park Drive. After a couple of minutes you'll be at Central Park Drive. Turn left & ride along the shared path for 500m & you'll see this cafe on your left.
For cheap eats, at Lincoln Road cross the motorway towards the industrial area, and you'll find Cielito Lindo (The Concourse Lunchbar on Google Maps), an unassuming place that serves some what many reckon is the best Mexican Food in Auckland.
If fast food is more your think, then 300m south of the Lincoln Road crossing is Texas Chicken, an international fast food chain that only has a handful of stores in NZ.
The North Western Cycleway connects to a range of other cycleways across Auckland.
At Point Chevalier you can head off to the Waterview Cycleway which will take you through to Avondale, Mount Roskill and even on to Onehunga. From Avondale or Onehunga you'll be able to get the train back to Britomart where you started.
Soon after Te Atatu, you can veer off and follow the Henderson Creek Path through to Henderson, where you can also get the train back, which is a 20km ride. This is a great introductory ride for those not used to riding long distances as is very safe and relatively flat once you made it out of the city.
At Westgate more experienced riders can start of range of longer rides such as riding along Hobsonville Road to Hobsonville Point or even the North Shore, along Trigg Road to Whenuapai and Herald Island or for the brave along SH16 to Huapai.