My Wayward Feet: Walking the magenta cycle way in the heart of Auckland
Sue Moody explores Auckland’s magenta cycle way – by foot.
Words and photos: Sue Moody.
One day soon(ish) you’ll be able to hop off the new City Rail Link at Karangahape station and walk or bike straight into Auckland’s CBD.
The dedicated new cycle and walkway which has so spectacularly re-purposed the old Nelson Street motorway offramp is already open for business and has won lots of admirers with its elegant design and bright pink pathway.
So let’s get exploring: it’s a little tricky to find, but our adventure starts in Canada Street, off Upper Queen Street, where we get a gentle wind up before coasting along the magenta highway which hovers intoxicatingly above the pulsing rush of the motorway’s spaghetti junction traffic.
Pink’s not the only colour – (Maori artist Katz Maihi chose it to represent the heart of totara) – the bridge’s LED arms pulse with purple light come nightfall.
Our hearts are pulsing a bit with the adrenaline rush of air-walking high above all those roaring cars and trucks, but we’re taking a moment to absorb the proximity of soaring Skytower and appreciate the side panels’ Maori emblems.
The planners of this $18million design have called it Te Ara I Whiti – the Lightpath – and here’s a thought: how about making a nocturnal visit? You not only get the benefit of the pink and purple lights, but you can also enjoy the canopy of stars.
But back to the present: traversing the huge koru pattern at its northernmost point, we’re out on Pitt Street, crossing to continue along Nelson Street toward the harbour. Take a left down Wellesley or Victoria Streets to Victoria Park, past the dedicated skateboard zone and continue the motorway theme by walking underneath the Victoria Park overpass, where the pillars are prettily painted with big dots.
Cross Beaumont at Fanshawe Street and there’s a nifty path running gently uphill until we reach the award-winning overbridge that connects straight to Westhaven Promenade. Here the City of Sails’ maritime spell takes hold. At St Mary’s Bay, there’s a basin of boats – from BIG ones to baby dinghies stacked by the marina. You’ll hear rigging clanking in the breeze and walk past a cluster of marine businesses, smart Sails restaurant with its waterfront ring-side seat and a small newly sanded beach with monumental concrete forms to replicate the historical waka of Tamaki Makaurau. Look up to the lumbering form of the harbour bridge just ahead, or across the bay to Rangitoto, our own very special volcano.
Westhaven Promenade was completed last year to offer a traffic-free experience of the bay. The wide path and boardwalk are anchored with steel piles into hard rock beneath the water. Waterfront Auckland cleverly re-used an old marina pontoon to build a pier for recreational boaties. New coastal plantings complete the picture.
You can linger on the wooden sun-loungers and at the look-out points – but we’re pressing on to complete a circuit back to the city. Before reaching the yacht squadron buildings, a set of stairs climbs straight up to Shelly Beach Road. That’s our return route, past handsome Herne Bay mansions, to Jervois Road. Good old Inner Link bus rocks up with 10-minute regularity to take the load off our wandering feet and deposit us in the city – or even back at K Rd to start the whole circuit again!
Explore the Nelson Street cycleway and Westhaven Promenade on foot any time of the year. You’re “walking” on air and water – about 6 kilometres – so wear sturdy shoes.
Family/dog-friendly but remember to “share with care” and watch out for fast-paced cyclists and skate-boarders especially if your party includes littlies. Victoria Park hosts a generous children’s playground.
Hungry at the end of all that walking? Or even half way through? You’re spoiled for choice with cafes and eateries in Wellesley St (City Works Depot has Best Ugly Bagel, Food Truck, Odettes, The Botanist) or Victoria Park Market. Westhaven’s spots have a salty tang: Swashbucklers Billfish, Sails, Sitting Duck.
Or make your way up to the foodie havens of Jervois and Ponsonby Roads. Make a day of it!