Illustrations: Toby Morris
Illustrations: Toby Morris

PartnersApril 17, 2024

Two wheels, to where? Exploring the North Shore by bike

Illustrations: Toby Morris
Illustrations: Toby Morris

We spoke with three people from the North Shore about why they love to cycle, and their favourite cycle routes.

The North Shore of Tāmaki Makaurau has many cycleways and green parks to choose from. The biking community in the area is relatively large, and the occasional bike on the roads isn’t an uncommon sight. Still, the hills and valleys of the area can pose a barrier to cycling, and some areas have less cycling infrastructure which makes parts inaccessible. 

But for anyone who’s visited the Shore and appreciated the beauty of the natural surroundings, biking might be the perfect way to connect with the bush, hills, lakes, beaches and waterways of the area. With large parks and a number of well-maintained cycleways to choose from, biking on the Shore just makes sense. 

We asked three North Shore cyclists about their love for cycling, and what makes the region so special to bike through. 

Gina Picard: Freedom and exercise

Gina Picard is a nurse, and says she got into cycling as a teenager through her father. She was a keen cyclist all through school and nurse training, and in the early years of her career. 

“I was riding to and from my job from Birkenhead to Bayswater and back each day. Then I had a pause… but I got back into cycling because I missed it. I had some reconstructive surgery which made that possible, and I got into e-bikes too.” 

Now, hills are “no longer an obstacle” for Picard, which means she gets out more. 

“I’ve ridden parts of the Takapuna to Devonport trail that zips in and out of quiet streets. Another one I enjoy is the Orewa track which is only eight kilometres. The other one I like is participating in Bike the Bridge events. I’ve done it three times. They shut down a lane and I thoroughly enjoy that because it’s a space on an open road without having to worry about traffic.” 

Picard says she’s drawn back to biking because she feels a sense of freedom and connection to nature when she rides. 

“It’s about getting out there exercising, and the freedom you get from being on a bike.”

Picard says she’d love to be able to ride more around the North Shore. Currently, herself and her husband, who’s a new rider, usually travel elsewhere to bike as they find other areas of Tāmaki more accessible. 

“I think that we really don’t have enough cycle trails on the Shore, and I’d like to see more and for them to connect better. I’d like to see kids cycling to schools instead of being taken in cars, and improved infrastructure on footpaths so they can be cycle paths as well.”

Zane Catterall: A lifelong passion

Zane Catterall has been an avid bike rider since he was four or five years old. He has fond memories of riding down the cemetery pathway along the green route from Takapuna to Devonport, which he describes as a “trial by fire” which laid the groundwork for hobbies such as mountain biking and BMX and trail riding. 

Catterall has biked all over Tāmaki, commuting to Glen Innes, Mt Eden and the CBD via the Devonport ferries, and to places like Smales Farm and Glenfield along the shore. He describes biking as a lifelong passion, one that he’s passing down to his two tamariki. 

“The way I was brought up was that our family didn’t have lots of money. Our bikes came from the inorganic or from friends and family. That was a really important time in my life to experience the joys of cycling and the freedom of not needing my parents to take me places. It helped me see the world under my own mana and my own energy.” 

Now, a track that he loves riding is one that takes him around the East Coast Bays, from Takapuna to Milford and up toward Long Bay. 

“It’s a really nice drive as well, but you can have an even more fun experience on the bike because you’re not at the mercy of the traffic and there’s spots to pull over and have a swim.”

Catterall says another favourite is the ride into Eskdale Reserve. His favourite track is the outer loop there because the trail is wide and the path is well looked after. 

“The main reason I love biking is the level of joy I find spreading across my face as I go out for a bike ride. It’s so freeing to think I can do it under my own power. 

“You don’t need a licence, you don’t need a rego, you don’t need to pay for petrol. You just need a bike that can roll on two wheels. You can get panniers, or a basket, or a rack. There’s so many different kinds of bikes for different purposes, they’re really utilitarian.”

Catterall says that he would love to see cycling infrastructure be prioritised in Auckland. 

“Traffic is only getting worse. The world would be so much nicer if everyone had a bike and didn’t have to sit in three-hour traffic just to get to work.”

Illustrations: Toby Morris

Terehia Walker: Community connection

Terehia Walker lives in Devonport, next door to her seven mokopuna. She’s been in the area for years, and says herself and her whole whānau have bikes and fix their own bikes, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. 

“It’s sustainable and it’s good for physical and mental wellbeing. You can park anywhere and there’s no rego or maintenance apart from regular bike costs.”  

Walker says her bike is “pretty cool”, with big wheels and a drink bottle holder and a basket. It’s an e-bike, and she says she made the switch to help with the hills in the area. She also has a trailer that attaches to her e-bike, and she says it’s “like a car seat.” It’s equipped with a seatbelt and adorned with flags so that she can bring her younger whānau along for rides. 

“All our friends bike. Older and young, all sorts of people. Biking doesn’t have a label on it where age, religion, race or gender stops you from riding a bike.”

Walker has biked all around the North Shore, from Devonport to Takapuna, Milford and Long Bay. But her favourite route is one that she takes almost everyday. First she goes down Old Lake Road and along the beachfront, through Narrowneck beach where she might stop for a swim. Then down past the Torpedo Bay Navy Museum, along the waterfront and up through Devonport township and through to Stanley Bay Point before going up through Ngātaringa Park. 

It’s her favourite route for many reasons, says Walker. She loves being able to stop for swims or a coffee at a cafe along the way, or a nosy through the township’s second hand stores. Walker says Stanley Bay Point is a “lovely place to read a book”, and her grandchildren love swimming there too. It’s a route that’s as functional as it is scenic, as it connects Walker to the wider community. Biking this way, Walker can access the ferry service and community spaces like the library and the marae. 

Walker is a firm advocate for biking, and says that the community is big around Devonport because there’s so many greenways and routes that avoid roads. However, when she does take the road, Walker advises others to “go slow” and says “as long as you’re careful, then it’s safe.” 

“I don’t have to drive a car, and biking is good for my mental and physical wellbeing. I’m out in the fresh air and I am exercising. It gets my mind very clear. Driving a car you have to deal with rego, maintenance and finding a park? Yeah nah. I’ll ride my bike.”

Keep going!