MANUKAU COAST - ONEHUNGA TO IHUMATAO
Route: Onehunga to Ihumatao
Type: Mostly off road paths, only on street section is within the regional park. Southern section is gravel.
The ride along the Manukau Harbour from Onehunga to Ihumatao is one of Auckland's hidden cycling gems. 12km of off-street paths, with beautiful scenic views over a part of Auckland most people only glimpse from a plane on take-off or landing. Suitable for the whole family.
Starting at Onehunga, the route passes over the old Mangere Bridge, along the harbours edge of Mangere Bridge, through Ambury Regional Park, and along the Watercare Coastal Walkway to the beautiful sacred site of Ihumatao.
This ride starts off by the Onehunga wharf, where the Mangere bridge starts. If you're coming from Onehunga station or town centre, the first 400m of the ride are the worst, as you're on the very busy Neilson Street. I would recommend walking the first 400 metres along the west side of Neilson Street, and then turn right down Onehunga Mall, which is a dead-end street. At the end of the street you'll see a path heading off to the left which will take you under the motorway.
As soon as you pass under the motorway, a path will come off to the left. This is Auckland's original Skypath, the Mangere high level bridge path. Despite being opened in 1983, it is seemingly little known, and even has a bike lane that is clearly separated from the footpath! The Old Mangere Bridge is currently being replaced, so this is the option to take you over the Manukau Harbour. Thankfully the path was upgraded when the old bridge closed, so feels safe, plus has full time security for peace of mind. You'll be treated to some wonderful views over the Manukau Harbour, including towards Titirangi, Mangere mountain and Ambury Park. Follow the path out to Waterfront Road, and turn right, and you'll soon you'll come across Coronation Road.
To ride along the Mangere Bridge foreshore to Ambury Regional Park you have two options, though both are parallel and only 20m away from each other! One option, which is best for families and riders with lower confidence is the shared path along the waterfront. Unfortunately this is only as wide as a footpath. The other option is ride along Kiwi Esplanade. This is a relatively low traffic street, so can be a better option for those used to some on street riding. This path continues for 3 kilometres, with lovely harbour views across to Onehunga, Maungakiekie and Hillsborough.
You'll some come across Ambury Regional park. Pass through the small gates, and follow the internal park roads. Most of the park is traffic free, but a short 200m section in the middle you will have to ride through the carpark, though speeds & volumes very low. While you're in Ambury Park you'll be treated to peaceful farmland surroundings, and a chance to meet some of the friendly farm animals in the adjacent paddocks.
After riding through the park for just under a kilometres, you'll leave the park and start on the Watercare Coastal track. This is a flat & good width gravel track that extends for 6 kilometres along the Mangere foreshore. The track is an interesting mix of natural and man made. Along most of the track you'll be treated to views over the Manukau Harbour & bird watching opportunities. This will be mixed in with views into our sewerage treatment infrastructure, including construction of the massive Central Interceptor tunneling project, given you'll be passing by the launch site for the Tunnel Boring Machine. If you're unlucky you may briefly notice a smell, but don't let this put you off!
At Island Road the route can be a little confusing. Cross over at the traffic lights, and the path should start again on your right, just look for the seats & map, and walkway should start again. After 800m the main path turns off to the left, or you can keep going for 1km to checkout Puketutu Island, which is definitely recommended if you have time.
The main path comes to end at Oruarangi Reserve, where there are toilets & a carpark. Across the river bridge is northern entrance to the Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve. The main entrance is a further 1500m away. Riders have two options. The Watercare Coastal path continues along the coast, and then into the stonefields, though gets narrower & rougher so best for mountain bikes only. More confident riders can continue along Oruarangi Road for 1km (posted at 50kmh but cars often drive faster than this), then turn right into Ihumatao Quarry Road, and continue for 500m to reach the main entrance.
The Otuataua Stonefields Historic Reserve is a fascinating place where you can easily spend several hours, exploring the volcanic cones, harbour views & rare remnants of early Maori habitation of Auckland. It gives a glimpse into what large parts of Auckland looked like prior to european settlement. You'll quickly understand why proposal to development farmland adjacent to the reserve into housing generated so much opposition.
The Onehunga to Ihumatao path connects to several other cycleways across Auckland.
At the Onehunga wharf you'll see the junction of the South Western Cycleway from Point Chevalier, as well as the Waikaraka Cycleway which takes you along the harbour to Penrose.
There are several options to link with the cycleway network to the Airport. One option to is head down Mark Ford Drive, and then into Ascot Road (busy weekdays but generally quiet on weekends), then onto the Airport Cycleway at Kirkbride Road.
Take a side trip to the beautiful but little known Puketutu Island. Only 1km each way to the island, plus a further 1km ride along a rough track to the north or south along the island's coastline.
A great day trip is to ride out from the city via the North Western, and then the South Western from Point Chevalier. The join the ride to Ihumatao at Onehunga wharf. Ride back to Onehunga, and get the train back to the city. This is about a 45 kilometre ride all up, but given how flat this ride is from Onehunga you'll be surprised at your ability to ride longer distances.
A more family friendly version of this ride is to take the train out to Onehunga in both directions, making it a 25km ride all up. For those with younger kids, you could try out a return trip to Ambury Farm which is 10km all up.
Stops along the way.
This ride has plenty of interesting spots along the way, including a surprisingly located winery!
The cycleway starts at Onehunga. Here you'll find a full range of bars (try Good Home or Brothers Onehunga which are closest), cafes and cheap eats.
Māngere Bridge town centre is only 250m off the cycleway, just head straight down Coronation Road rather than taking the right turn to head along the coastline. This has a range of well priced cafes, takeaways and bakeries. The Hong Kong bakery is often said to have the best pork buns in Auckland.
This ride takes you through Ambury Regional Park, also known as Ambury Farm. This is a working farm, and a great chance for kids to see a whole range of animals up close. There are also scenic coastal tracks & bird watching opportunities.
The ride takes you past Māngere Lagoon, which is a volcanic crater. This has a 2km loop walk around the edge with beautiful views over Māngere Mountain.
A 1.4km detour near the end of the trail takes you to Villa Maria's Auckland Tasting Room. Wine Tasting, tours & small plates are available Tuesday to Saturday, though bookings recommended. Just head down Mark Ford Drive and Montgomerie Road (generally quiet on weekends).