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A cycle trip to Toad Hall

For people living near the centre or north of Motueka town (and even for others closer to the destination), a round cycle trip (with backpack) to shop for your healthy food and veges at Toad Hall can be a scenic hour or two of exercise and relaxation.

Several alternative sections of possible routes mean you can do this trip over again and check out different things each time. Some sections are longer than others, so you can plot a course to suit the time you have.

Of course, straight down along High Street the the southern roundabout and then back is the quickest, but with the lack of cycle lanes on High Street (except for a bit of extra width on the southernmost section), this is not all that enjoyable. Instead, use the side streets and cycle paths available linking them.

One good starting section is through Thorp Bush and down the cycle/walking path between the Sanderlane Drive subdivision and Goodman Park. (It's shown on this map by the black line.) Watch out for walkers and respect their use of the path also. The drain, although hardly a tourist attraction, is nevertheless interesting in its wetland vegetation and the water-buffer role it serves.

To get onto that cycleway, enter Thorp Bush either via Tudor Street, Taylor Avenue and Avalon Court, or via the park entrance off Woodland Ave. The short, winding paths through the bush are absolutely delightful, so don't rush them. If you think you're lost, just keep going - eventually you find a way out!

When you arrive at the Recreation Centre and Old Wharf Road, go toward the beach for a few tens of metres and then turn in to the Inlet Walkway (shared walking and cycling) that edges the landward side of the estuary. Whether the tide is in or out, you'll see some wonderful wetland and tidal sights here - either water or great coastal plantings. The track winds a fair bit and is not particularly wide in places, and you may meet some walkers, so take it slowly - all the better to see the sights at leisure.

The first section is dedicated to a wonderful scheme being run by Keep Motueka Beautiful - the "Adopt a Plot" area. Hop off your bike and walk around the interconnected tracks to see what dedicated residents have been doing to restore the wetland area with sympathetic plantings. If you're sufficiently inspired, you may consider adopting a plot yourself.

If you take this cycleway all the way, you end up just off Wharf Road behind the industrial area. It's a quick minute to cross the road just up from the roundabout and park beside Toad Hall.

This ex-church building is nicely set up with not only fresh (and mostly local) organic vegetables but also tasty food and coffee for a snack lunch or afternoon tea, plus some great icecreams mixed and squeezed on the spot. If we have time, take some food and beverage out into the courtyard area with its peaceful and sheltered botanic setting.

For the trip back, there are two worthy routes, as long as you're still enjoying being on the bike and the backpack isn't too heavy. Otherwise, you could simply return via the inlet route or even just negotiate High Street. The first (our favourite) is to start off down Wharf Road to Port Motueka. (This return trip is shown by the blue lines on our map.) The shared cycle/footpath on the north side was completed late in 2011, making a safe journey to Port Motueka.

From Port Motueka, ride along Trewavas Street (or even along the waterfront path) to Old Wharf Road, up to Thorp Street to Tudor Street and home. This section provides a leisurely drive-by look at some lovely homes and gardens.

If you prefer (or next time), leave Toad Hall along High Street South, heading out to Lower Moutere, past the berry gardens and round the corner to Wildman Road and then right at Queen Victoria Street. The beauty of this return trip is the wonderful, safe cycleway that has been constructed, through the farmland all the way back past the Aerodrome to Whakarewa Street or Pah Street. If there are parachutists in action at the time, a stop-off beside the road at the Aerodrome to watch some of them can round out a leisurely round journey.

If you have a favourite thing you like to do - a walking place, attraction, quiet spot - so the rest of us can check it out and enjoy it too, please tell us about it here.