This is a Grade 1 ride from Ngaruwahia in the North to Hamilton Botanic Gardens, all on sealed or concreted surfaces. It’s a pleasant ride alongside the Mighty Waikato. In theory it continues to Karapiro, but there are road sections south of Hamilton at this stage.
Further info can be found on the Te Awa website.
The start is at the confluence of the Waipa and Waikato rivers in Ngaruwahia. In itself this is a nice spot for a picnic, but you’ll be heading out on your bike which is nicer yet. It is quite straightforward going, just keep the river to one side!
A few clicks on you will get to the Perry Bridge – a bright green erection sponsored by the Perry Foundation.
This part of the Waikato is pretty if unremarkable, as you head towards Te Rapa. At Horotiu you cross the river again before getting to the Anchor Milk Factory at Te Rapa.
Once you approach Hamilton it all gets quite pretty and a lot busier, with cyclists, runners, walkers of all ages. It’s just how river paths should be.
Tip: when you get into the residential section a km or so after the milk factory, you ride a short bit alongside Pukete Rd. Rather than taking the first path to your left continue for a few hundred metres to avoid an unrideable section. Remember where you rejoined for the trip back.
The trail through Hamilton is quite fun, with some steeper and narrower sections and boardwalks all the way to the Hamilton Gardens. These are worth a visit and browse, and there are often events on. Check the website for details.
If you arrive in Hamilton near mealtime or coffee time, there are plenty of good eateries and drinkeries along Victoria St. Our lunch at Mr Pickles was good.
It was here on the way back that things went badly for us though, forced to ride a section of the Victoria St strip due to maintenance on the track.
We were yelled at and forced off the road by some twat-local, who then threw the bike and I onto the ground, apparently because we actually dared to ride in the left of a two-laned road. Amazingly, while a witness was talking to 111 being told there was no resource available to help, a police car cruised slowly past… And despite photos provided of the perp and over an hour at the police station, nothing has eventuated from the assault charge. What a waste of time and effort, it made the victim experience even worse than had I just shrugged it off as part of the “Hamilton Experience”. Worse yet, on the way back from the cop-shop ElectricMeg was within centimeters of being taken out by a car leaving its parallel-parking space, saved only by savvy riding on her part (staying well clear of parked cars). Hamilton, you have issues. [Update Feb 2019: NZ Police have tracked the perpetrator down, he has admitted his wrongdoing and will go through a community justice programme. Well done NZP, it took a while but you didn’t drop the ball.]
Hopefully though you won’t have such terrible luck and will enjoy your ride there and back.
Being sealed, the trail is suitable for all styles of bicycle; electric or acoustic.