GLCC Five Volcanoes Ride: Even the title of this ride sounds exciting for those new to the shores of New Zealand. Auckland is gifted with 55 volcanoes, some you won’t even recognise as volcanoes, like Lake Pupuke, others you will. This route takes you along Auckland’s gorgeous waterfront, along Tamaki Drive. If it weren’t for the volume of traffic it’d be delightful.
Once you leave Tamaki Drive and head up Cliff Road, life becomes more arduous. Cliff road (Mer de Cliff on Strava) is a pinch climb. Follow the road around along Riddell, up Roberta (another sharp pinch climb) and down Taniwha. By this part of the ride you’ll have already passed another 2 volcanoes and not noticed it. One of them is as you ride on Glover road, the other near Roberta/Crossfields road. Eventually you’ll arrive at the base of Mt Wellington. This climb is very steep to start with. You’ll have to navigate the cattle grids. The road flattens and you can grab a breath or two. Just watch out for the descent, it can be tricky.
After Mt Wellington you’ll head to One Tree Hill. You’ll probably notice the lack of the ‘ONE’ tree. The pine tree was removed some years ago, and they’re now waiting for some native saplings to mature and take pride of place on the hill. The climb itself is pretty gruelling. The early ramp flattens out, and then the kicker comes at the last 200 metres. The view from the top is sensational. The panorama of Auckland’s sprawl is breathtaking. Take some time to take in the views.
Maungarei / Mount Wellington is a 135-metre volcanic peak located in the Auckland volcanic field of Auckland, New Zealand. Mt Wellington is the youngest onshore volcano of the Auckland volcanic field, having been formed by an eruption around 10,000 years ago. It is the largest of Auckland’s scoria cones and has a near-circular base with a flattish rim and three small fire-fountaining craters. It is situated in the Mount Wellington suburb of East Auckland.
Maungarei / Mount Wellington was used as a pā, and its flanks, particularly on the eastern side, are covered in food storage pits and terraced house sites.
Next up is Mt Eden, Auckland’s highest point (excluding the Waitakere ranges). The main thing to watch out on this climb are the tourists. They flock to Mt Eden by the bus load. It’s best to do this climb, and route, early in the morning. Whilst the view of the city is spectacular, it doesn’t compare as a climb to One Tree Hill. It’s an easy gradient, and quite a comfortable ride.
Mt Eden Road winds its way around the side of Mount Eden Domain and continues to weave back and forth as it descends into the valley; it runs south from Eden Terrace to Three Kings. Mt Eden village centre is located roughly between Valley Road and Grange Road. The domain is accessible on foot from many of the surrounding streets, and by vehicle from Mt Eden Road. The central focus of the suburb is Maungawhau / Mount Eden, a dormant volcano whose summit is the highest natural point on the Auckland isthmus.\
In pre-European times Mount Eden was utilised as a fortified hill pa by various Māori tribes. The pa is thought to have been abandoned around 1700 AD after conflict between the resident Waiohua people and the Hauraki tribes. The earth ramparts and terraces from this period contribute to the distinctive outline of the hill today.
From Mt Eden you’ll head west to Mt Roskill. In the past, Mount Roskill was referred to as the Bible Belt of Auckland, as it contained the highest number of churches per capita in New Zealand. The electorate was one of the last in the country to go “wet”, in 1999, having formally been a dry area where the selling of alcohol was prohibited. The climb of 110 metres is gentle, just be safe on the road leading up to the entrance.
The mountain formed as a result of volcanic activity some 20,000 years ago. Its peak, located in present-day Winstone Park towards thesouthwest end of the suburb, is 110 metres in height – one of the many extinct cones which dot the isthmus of Auckland, all of which form part of the Auckland volcanic field. The scoria cone was built by fire-fountaining from two craters. Lava flowed from the base of the cone to the north and to the northwest. It was the site of a pā, and was known as Puketāpapa (“the flat-topped mountain” in Te Reo Māori) and as Pukewīwī.
Mt Albert is reached by cycling along Mt Albert Rd. It’s a fast and furious stretch of road. The drivers are generally courteous, but have your wits about you. This climb is harder than it looks on paper. The front half of the climb is tough. Fortunately the second half is gentle. Whilst it doesn’t have the glory of Mt Eden, and the views of One Tree Hill, it has a certain charm. Also, by this time you’ll be thinking about coffee and the end of the ride. That almost brings us to the end of the GLCC 5 volcanoes ride. Now ride to a next bike friendly café.
Mount Albert (Māori: Owairaka or Te Puke-o-Ruarangi) is a volcanic peak which dominates the landscape of Mount Albert, a suburb of Auckland.The peak, in parkland at the southern end of the suburb, is 135 metres (443 ft) in height, and is one of the many extinct cones which dot the city of Auckland, all of which are part of the Auckland volcanic field. The age of the volcano is currently unknown. The peak was formerly the site of a Māori pā, a fortified settlement. Extensive quarrying has reduced the height of the scoria cone by about 15 metres (49 ft) and significantly altered its shape, but a few remnants of Māori earthworks such as terracing are still visible.
Cafés and coffee
This is the most important part of the ride. Head up Great North rd until you get back to Grey Lynn. It’s at the junction of Great North Road and Williamson Ave that Kokako Café is situated. Kokako is a a great café, offering their own coffee and a delightful vegetarian menu.
Although strictly not a cycling café, it does have a couple of bike racks outside. Park up your bike, but make sure it is locked (this is just like any other city, your bike may go missing if not locked). The staff are extremely friendly, but service can be slow.
The interior has been kept similar to its original design as a post office, which it was until 2012. Its true to its original form, even the old counter has been kept. It’s definitely worth a visit, and you’ll definitely deserve a decent cup of coffee, and maybe a brioche.
NB. Click here for the GLCC 5 volcanoes ride, or on any of the pictures for the route GPX file