It was a calm sunny Sunday, not too hot making it perfect conditions for a ferry ride to Hobsonville Point with bikes. Transporting three bikes and the Duet Wheelchair Bike is a bit of a squeeze in our mobility van. So we were keen to use the ferries to get our bikes to Catalina Bay, Hobsonville where the new cycleway starts from. The Bay boasts an indoor farmers market too and has recently upgraded its ferry wharf. The ferry to and from Downtown Auckland is also considered to be wheelchair accessible!
Hobsonville Point, a new weekend destination to head for in Auckland!
Starting in Devonport
We started our bike journey from Devonport, a picturesque seaside community steeped in heritage and home to the Royal New Zealand Navy. There are lots of boutique shops and restaurants dotted along its high street. Devonport is also home to two volcanic cones, Mount Victoria and North Head which both boast incredible views over the City and out towards the Hauraki Gulf. The North Shore suburb is a popular shore excursion for the visiting cruise ship passengers. Easily accessed by a 10-minute ferry ride, departing on the quarter to and quarter past the hour, to and from Downtown Auckland.
The Wharf & Ferry
There are a few ferries that leave from Devonport to Downtown Auckland. But everyone’s favourite ferry would have to be The Kea. The Kea is the best for wheelchair access, more room to manoeuvre around in with good space to park your bikes up.
Arriving in the Downtown Auckland Ferry Terminal is pretty straightforward. We turned right once we’d got through the ticketing booths to locate Pier 4 in order to catch the Hobsonville Ferry via Beach Haven (another North Shore coastal suburb). The Piers are all clearly marked as you cycle along.
Directly outside the ferry terminal is another purpose-built cycleway. This one will take you right along the waterfront to another popular destination known as Mission Bay.
Pier 4 to Hobsonville
We had a misleading and confusing time here sorting out onward tickets to Hobsonville. Apparently the ferry provider for this crossing was a different contracted company and they didn’t have any special discount for our son’s caregiver travelling with us. We hadn’t organised Hop Cards for everyone, as they cost $10 each to purchase so we found it an expensive option taking the ferry over. Our son had his Total Mobility AT Concession Card so he travelled on the ‘Accessible’ Hop Card Fare.
What you need to know about obtaining an AT Hop Card Accessible Concession
The ferry to Hobsonville can be a challenge depending on tide. With the help of ferry staff we managed to push the chair up and over the ramping. Not something we would have attempted with our tilt-in-space manual or our son’s power chair though.
To get onto this ferry we had to detach the bike attachment from the wheelchair. This made it a little awkward as we had to carry the bike part (I was sitting on) and push the wheelchair onto the ferry.
With a little effort we made it onboard and managed to squeeze ourselves into the small area reserved for one wheelchair. The staff provided a temporary wooden ramp to get us over the door lip, the space was hard getting around it. We would recommend you check the ferry out before you get onboard to see if it works for you. We would call it ‘doable’ with assistance from the accommodating crew.
On this ferry there was only the back of the boat that we could store the bikes at.
Beach Haven & Hobsonville Bound
Once on the ferry we sat back and admired the views. The kids were becoming hungry and fidgety by this time. I was crossing my fingers we could exit the other end hassle free.
The Hobsonville Ferry Wharf
Disembarking here was a lot easier than getting on at Auckland City’s Pier 4. The staff were again very helpful and helped me re-attach the bike back onto the wheelchair as I was getting a little flustered. Always happens when the kids are getting hungry and we are holding people up. So, before we could enjoy a cycle along the new cycle/walkway we had to go in search of something to eat.
The immediate area at Hobsonville Ferry Terminal is known as Catalina Bay.
Handy Bike Maintenance Tools
Never knowing when they might come in handy are these bike handy maintenance stations. We are seeing more and more of these located around newly built cycleways. They generally have a pump attached too but this one we noticed had been removed. Alongside the tools is a NextBike Station consisting of 8 electric bikes that can be hired and taken for a spin.
Just in front of the Ferry Terminal we found bike parks to lock up our bikes. The bonus with the Duet Wheelchair bike is the ability to detach the wheelchair from the bike part. This feature makes it a lot easier to access the shops and eateries at any destination.
We quickly went in search of food, as by this time the kids were just about losing the plot.
We discovered the historic Sunderland Hangar right in front of us. It used to be a huge aircraft hangar housing giant seaplanes. The hangar had recently been converted into a craft brewery and a selection of restaurants/eateries.
The Hangar was definitely the place to be for lunch, with its big open doors and easy wheel-in seating!
Inside we found a good choice of food on offer with ‘shared spaces’ in the middle to eat. It was good to be out of the sun for a time.
The Micro Brewery
Along with the choice of food on offer you will find Little Creatures micro brewery with craft beer on tap. Again, the whole area had great access with plenty of space to move around.
I couldn’t resist taking a look at the accessible toilets. We found them fresh, clean and spacious, in a great location directly opposite the brewery’s bar.
After we’d refreshed ourselves with food and drinks it was finally time to set out on our ride before the last ferry home.
Oh Dear! A Flat Tyre
No sooner had we finished our lunch we discovered a flat tyre on the wheelchair. Unfortunately when we tried to pump the tyre up the air wouldn’t stay in once we removed the pump. We went over to check out the bike maintenance tools. This is where we found out the pump was missing!
Pumps aside we soon realised that it wasn’t a pump that was needed. We had lost a crucial part in the valve that kept the air in the tyre.
Catalina Bay Farmers Market
I went to find help and headed towards the Catalina Bay Farmers Market. The place was humming with activity, lots of local produce on sale, craft stalls, ice-cream vendors and buskers entertaining the crowds. Unfortunately we didn’t get the opportunity to check things out as we needed to find someone who could help us instead. We stumbled on a fair few willing and eager to assist but no-one could find a solution.
Calling in the Help
We considered everything! The buses pulled up right in front but had no space to take bikes. If we hobbled back onto the ferry, the weight of Finlay in the wheelchair would damage the wheel rim. We couldn’t call a mobility taxi because the wheelchair component of the bike wasn’t compliant with the needed anchor point’s for tying down.
We were well and truly stuck!
So, I made the call to a mobile cycle service that we knew who operated out of our local area back in Devonport. It was the last thing he felt like doing on his day off. However, good old Will from Cycle Service couldn’t leave our Finlay stranded with no way of getting home that Sunday. He arrived (within 30 minutes) and fixed the tyre so we could continue on our way. He was definitely our ‘hero of the day.’
WE KEEP YOU RIDING true to his catchphrase!
A quick cycle before home
Now, after coming all this way to experience the cycleway I just had to take Finlay for a quick spin before the last ferry left for Downtown Auckland. We only managed a small part of it in the short time we had left, but it was worth it.
You will find plenty of parking next to the Ferry Wharf at Catalina Bay. The parks here are accessible to The Farmer’s Market, The Hangar, Craft and Food Stalls and the beginning of the Cycle/Walkway.
Hobsonville back to Downtown Auckland
The newly built wharf is great for bikes and wheelchairs. We loved reading the information put up along the wharf describing the history of the area.
As you can see by the photos below the ramp on the return wasn’t as compromised by the tide. We still had to detach the wheelchair from the bike to make the turn though.
Once back on the ferry to Downtown Auckland, we decided to sit outside as we preferred the space and fresh air it offered. However, we found no shade from the heat of the sun and it proved awkward to inconvenience everyone inside to move to allow us inside.
TIP: Check the timetable carefully as this service does two return trips to the other side of the Estuary to Beach Haven before setting off to Auckland City.
On our last visit here we drove, parked up and completed the whole circuit with a power chair, scooter and rollerblades. It took us approximately 3 hours from start to finish. It was fantastic apart from having to negotiate the odd stretch of loose gravel with the scooter and rollerblades.
Both experiences by bike and power chair were enjoyable but I’d say given the option we would probably drive. I think it would have been a far less stressful and cheaper option.