This is a guest post by Carl Wells, a professional musician
For a long time I’ve wanted to cycle to the airport in Auckland to catch a flight. A recent four-day trip to Christchurch finally provided me the perfect opportunity. The ride was so safe, scenic and enjoyable that I want to share my experience to help and possibly inspire others to take the trip.
Everything needed for the trip must be carried on the bike, but it’s not as crazy as I first feared. Not only did I fit my necessary clothes and gear in my panniers, but I also carted a box of Ooooby fruits and vegetables to donate to the earthquake shelters in Christchurch as well as my trusty french horn. I also packed an empty duffel bag so that when I got to the airport I could repack everything into it.
I’ll start my description once you’ve made your way to the South-Western Motorway. There is a brilliant new separated cycle path which follows the the southern side of the motorway nearly all the way until the Mangere Bridge.
One should be aware that the bike lane continues at many intersections along this segment â€” even when you see signs that say â€˜bike lane ends’ or â€˜no bikes’. The signs are more of a reminder to not wander absent-mindedly onto the motorway on-ramp. Bad idea. Especially considering there is such a nice bike path.
The separated cycle path climbs gradually and ends at its highest point just past Hillsborough Rd. A fantastic view, and then an exhilarating downhill along Hendry Ave, a conveniently deserted side street. Note: coming back from the airport I had to walk my bike back up this hill as the climb was just too sudden and relentless.
On top of the world as the cycle path joins with Hendry Ave.
Here’s a discouraging sign on the far side of the roundabout where Hendry Ave ends. Just to the right of this sign is an unmarked new separated cycle path.
Continue along as the path joins a scenic harbour front drive. At the intersection make a hard right onto this shared use footpath.
The path bears to the right just before it approaches this popular fishing bridge.
After crossing the bridge continue straight through the roundabout past the shops. This section is all road cycling but the road is mostly wide and pretty safe. Bear right slightly at the next roundabout, following the sign to â€˜Mangere Town Centre’.
After this second roundabout, take your second left onto Hinau Rd â€” a short cul-de-sac. At the end of the cul-de-sac continue along the shared use path. The delicious smells of backyard BBQs distracted successfully from the pollution in the stream.
Follow this path as it winds through some large rugby fields and eventually crosses Bader Dr. Though this cluster of signs on the opposite side of the intersection doesn’t do much to encourage any would be non-motorists.
Ignore and proceed.
After the cycle path ends at Kirkbridge Rd, continue along the cycle lane in traffic. Though it is an exceptionally wide cycle lane, it could still be a bit harrowing considering the four lane highway has a speed limit of 100 km/h.
If you can successfully negotiate through two roundabouts in traffic then you’ve made it! It took me just over an hour from the bottom of Sandringham on my old beater bike, including time to stop for pictures and to get a little lost.
After repacking at the Air New Zealand ‘bag packing’ station I proceeded to ask around for a place to lock my bike for four days. I was given the run around by security guards, traffic guards, information booths and information hotlines â€” and only one of them knew about a bike rack at the very far end of the international terminal. After cycling all the way to the airport I wasn’t expecting to almost miss my flight due to lack of parking! Turns out we were all just uninformed: according to the Auckland Airport website, there is indeed a bike rack in the domestic terminal car park. Perhaps next time …
This really is a beautiful ride where about 75 percent of the journey is along separated cycle paths. How many cities can brag of a having a practical cycle route to an international airport? With some proper signage, a separating curb for the last four kilometers, and a bit of marketing â€” this route will really go places!