Te Aranui o Pōneke – a place for penguins

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Little Blue Penguin coming ashore

When you’re travelling the GHW, you might be lucky enough to see a little blue penguin, or kororā,. On shore, they’re vulnerable, and keep out of sight. But you may see one swimming off shore, where they feel more confident, or at dusk see them scurrying to their nests.

Unfortunately in many places along the GHW, humans have built roads between the shore and the penguin nests, and kororā end up as road kill. Places for Penguins provides safely located nesting boxes for kororā. Volunteers check the boxes every few weeks to monitor the progress of penguins. From June to December, they’re raising chicks, and from January to March the boxes are a safe haven for the annual moult, when they can’t swim or feed for a couple of weeks until their new coat grows back.

Another hazard for kororā are dogs – while your canine companion will enjoy an outing on the GHW, make sure it’s under control and not tempted to disturb our precious penguins.

Seaward Petone to Ngauranga route to go ahead

Visualisation of Petone to Ngauranga cycle/walkway

Visualisation of Petone to Ngauranga cycle/walkway

NZTA has confirmed that a shared cycling and walking path will be built on the seaward side of the Railway between Petone and Ngauranga (P2N). Construction is expected to begin by 2019. This is great news for solving the P2N “gap” in the Great Harbour Way Te Aranui o Pōneke, making it safe and comfortable for walkers and cyclists to complete the circuit around Wellington’s harbour, Te Whanganui-a-Tara.

The proposed 3m wide path will have 1m shoulders allowing for a wider path if demand warrants. The path will protect the railway line from storms, such as the 2013 event which affected commuters for six days, and had economic impacts of up to $43 million. Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown points out that the path will make the 10km from Petone to Wellington a straightforward option for commuters and recreational users. It will also provide access for fishers to a significant part of the harbour shoreline.

Related projects to be funded under the Urban Cycleways Programme will connect the path to Melling and Lower Hutt in the north, and to Thorndon and the Wellington Waterfront in the south.

The history of the Petone to Ngauranga path is a long one. In 1900 “large numbers of cyclists were induced by the beauty of the day to ride to the Hutt district. Between Ngahauranga and Petone a narrow path in the centre of the mud had been beaten hard by horses hoofs and hundreds of bicycles, enabling riders to remain in the saddle from town to their destination”. In 1901 Hansard reported Wellington MP Mr Wilford’s proposal that cyclists contribute 5 shillings (about $45) a year to build a cycle track from Wellington to the Hutt, despite parliamentary doubts about the future of transport – another MP opined that “there is not such a a craze for cycling now as there was five or six years ago. Many young men are abandoning the cycle and going back to the horse, and then, the motorcar is going to take the place of the cycle. We have a dozen of these in Canterbury at the present time”. A foot and cycleway was built between the railway line and the road, but a 1911 letter reported that “already there have been several narrow escapes” with motor cyclists using the path. In 1927 the track had been “repeatedly dug up…for the purpose of laying water mains, drains, etc.” A 1929  Cyclists Touring Club ride picked up 1843 nails from the path. In 1930 the track had been damaged by storm and motor lorries crossing to repair the railway line. In 1933 the Lower Hutt Borough Council rejected proposals to repair the cycle track for a cost of around £1800 (about $200 000), even though £600 would have been paid by the Public Works and Railways Departments as compensation for damage done to the track.  In the 1980s the road was widened, reducing the cycleway to an unmaintainable width.

Intrepid reporter navigates the P2N in 1980

Intrepid reporter Karen Brown rides the P2N in 1978

Today we’ve learned the lesson that private motor cars are not sustainable transport, and the P2N project will be a big advance in Wellington’s active transport and recreation network, connecting the Wellington CBD to the Hutt Valley and the Rimutaka Cycle Trail.

Ciclovia demonstrates demand for cycling and walking route around harbour

Miramar Ciclovia 2015

The 2015 summer has seen three Ciclovia on the Miramar Peninsula section of the GHW. For each Ciclovia, the road between Shelly Bay and Scorching bay was motor free for a day, allowing people of all ages and abilities to walk and cycle along the coast without cars. The fact that up to 2300 people participated in each Ciclovia shows a strong demand for cycling and walking routes around Wellington Harbour, which is the aim of the GHW project.

Ciclovia attracts 2300 cyclists and walkers to Miramar Peninsula

Families on the Miramar Ciclovia (Photo: Shailie Pidcock)

Families on the Miramar Ciclovia (Photo: Shailie Pidcock)

Despite windy conditions on Sunday, 2300 Wellingtonians took advantage of the Miramar Peninsula Ciclovia to walk, cycle, scoot, skate and roller blade.

The route, following Massey Road from Shelly Bay to Scorching Bay, followed the Great Harbour Way/ Te Aranui o Pōneke, the cycling and walking route around Wellington Harbour.

Almost eight times as many cyclists, and three times as many pedestrians, were on the Peninsula during the Ciclovia compared with a normal Sunday. Businesses such as the Chocolate Fish and Scorch-O-Rama experienced high demand.

Participants included many families with young children, taking advantage of the opportunity to learn riding and scooting skills in a motor free environment. The day also included a “Bubs on Bikes” event organised by Wellington group Frocks on Bikes, which enabled families to compare different ways to carry young children on bikes.

“The response to Ciclovia shows that there would be strong support for making the Miramar Peninsula motor free on a regular basis. Also, there is a strong desire to be protected from motor traffic while cycling, and that if this is provided, the number of cyclists will increase dramatically” said Alastair Smith, a member of the organising group.

The event was organised by Cycle Aware Wellington, Generation Zero, and Living Streets Aotearoa, and received support from Wellington City Council, Wellington Regional Council, and Go Traffic Management.

Two more Ciclovia are scheduled this summer on the Miramar Peninsula: Sunday 15 February, and Sunday 8 March.

Miramar Peninsula Ciclovia is on its way – but we need your help!

IMG_4280aSmRemember 16 February 2014? That was the day that almost 2500 cyclists and walkers turned out to enjoy a perfect summer day on a motor free Miramar Peninsula, on the first Miramar Peninsula Ciclovia.

Ciclovia is back for February/March 2015, but we need your help. Although we’ve received support from WCC and GWRC, we need money to cover costs such as traffic management and publicity.

You can help here by contributing to the Ciclovia – Miramar Peninsula 2015 PledgeMe campaign – follow the link to help make Ciclovia happen!