Last Sunday was such a great day I decided to go and explore some of the roads around Waipara, and check out some of the other coffee shops as I have always tended to stop at either Pukeko Junction or The Norwester. So first stop was for fuel at Shell in Amberley and right beside it is a wee cafe which I had never ventured into but it was a fantastic surprise.
They had a great selection of fresh salads, slices and a comprehensive breakfast/lunch menu. While enjoying a coffee and egg & bacon slice a large group of bikes stopped to join me, so it must be a good spot to stop. I had to laugh when leaving as one of the riders suggested ‘I keep the shiny side up’ but if you could have seen my bike that day you would have laughed too as there was no shiny part at all.
Anyway, my first road to explore was Kate Valley Road, first right after the Waipara Bridge heading North. Right at the intersection there is a container advertising a Spa which I was keen to check out but it didn’t exist. The road passes the Mt Cass Walkway and a bit further on the Tiromoana Bush Walkway. Both of these are managed by Transwest who is the company that runs the large landfill on the road, not that you could see any of it. The road turns to gravel and ends at a farmers yard, but an awesome road all the same.
Back to the highway and left back towards Christchurch but turning right opposite Mudhouse Wines onto Georges Road. I had expected this job to take me back towards Amberley (South) but in fact it took me North eventually coming out on the Lake Sumner road West of Hawarden.
The road itself is about 50% sealed/gravel and both parts are just stunning. Before you leave the sealed section you pass the Iron Ridge Quarry (www.raymondherber.com) which is a quarry that has been converted into an art gallery. The venue would make a wonderful place for a mid winter BBQ, Raymond will even supply the BBQ.
Carrying on the road passes through some pine forestry and runs past the gates of McDonalds Downs Farm. From here you can either carry on straight or haed back towards Waipar via Pyramid Valley, both of which are great rides.
Heading home I decided to stop at the Red Brick Cafe at Waikuku. This again was a great surprise as I had always gone past it as it was so close to leaving home and I generally was not needing a coffee so soon but the cafe is worth a visit just for itself. They had an excellent variety of food and the plate of Pork Ribs I saw was impressive. I just had a Rum Ball which was delicious.
Anyway, I find it’s always interesting to explore the roads that are in your backyard as they are often overlooked. Last weekend we had a fantastic ride around Banks Peninsula, covering about 250 kms and most of it great gravel roads.