Waiheke Island: Conquering the hills

We arrived back in New Zealand on 9 March and immediately appreciated the pleasant temperatures, lack of rubbish and the clean-green feel about the place. These are environmental factors that we tend to take for granted when living in this country but our 10 weeks in South East Asia were a reminder of just how lucky we are here. I commented to Ruth that I will never again complain about (amongst many other things) the ‘rubbish’ in our home town or the state of our roads – we simply have nothing to complain about.

After a wet warm summer our garden was more jungle-like than some of the jungle we had seen while away. However, a few days of toil soon revealed our outdoor living areas (a bit like revealing a Khymer Temple) and after a week we were ready to get on the move again.

House - 1
There is a path down there somewhere – and other plants

We had a long overdue visit to Auckland to catch up with Ruth’s 93 year old mother who had undergone knee surgery while we were away. While in Auckland my to-do list included testing out and hopefully purchasing two electric folding bikes.

I touched base with the bike manufacturer regarding hiring a couple of ONYA F19s. He told me that they had a rental outlet at the ferry terminal in Auckland which meant that we could collect two bikes and hop on the ferry to Waiheke Island, a quick 40 minutes into the Hauraki Gulf. Waiheke has plenty of hills and one of the objectives of moving to an e-velo was to remove the obstacle of hills. Ruth’s aversion to steep things has tended to limit what rides we can consider. I have to confess that even I balk at them sometimes.

Ruth was finding the downhill sections more challenging than biking up the hills. The tyres were narrow and slick and not suited to the moist conditions that we experienced for about an hour.

The weather forecast looked good but given our ‘weather-luck’ we were not surprised when it started to rain as we hopped onto the bikes at Matiatia Bay on Waiheke. We had an uphill climb from the ferry terminal and after 500 meters I turned expecting to see Ruth well behind. Wow! she was attempting to pass me going uphill had a huge smile on her face – what a start!

Waiheke - 1
Ruth has blasted past me and wants to know why I am so slow up the hills.

The hills got steeper but were of little consequence as the bikes cruised up them with ease. Once at the top, we could turn off the pedal assist (PAS) and coast down the other side. On what little flat terrain there was, we used the bikes without the PAS. It was great. The only hiccup was that the hire bikes were configured for town riding and the narrow and slick tyres were tricky on the downhill runs when the road was wet. On raising this with Chris at Bikes and Barbers he cheered us by telling us that they had a ‘Rural’ configuration which had fatter tyres with more tread and a larger crank. The trade-off is the battery life as the engine has to work a little harder to push that sturdier configuration up the hills.

Waiheke - 3
Ruth looking very stylish with her hood on under the helmet
Waiheke - 2
Little Palm beach looked good even in the inclement weather.
Heading along Ontetangi bezach with a lunch stop in mind. The first place was closed for a private function but the second yielded some sustenance.

A ride such the one on Waiheke would not have been considered on a standard bike. Ruth would have told me to ‘get a life’ had I dared mention it. She was a little dubious about it but my ‘piece of cake on a e-velo argument’ won her over. At the end of the ride she commented that for once I had over-estimated the ride effort – it was much easier than she had anticipated.

The bikes on the ferry ride back to the Auckland CBD

So we are the owners of two ONYA F19s and our next phase is to evaluate the limits of the bikes so that we can start to plan our next adventures. I started today with a hilly 40km ride out to Shakespear Park and back. Despite the smaller size of a folding bike, the ride was just as good as on our current hybrid bikes but without the effort of getting up the hills. Most hills could be scaled at level 1 PAS with only the steeper sections requiring a step up to 2. The other aspect of the folding bike that we need to test out is taking them as luggages on buses, trains and planes. We have already ticked the ‘ferry’ box.

Waiheke - 4
Our F19s – sounds like a fighter plane – Ruth went for the blue – Cliff for the bronze (gold was never a colour that attracted itself to me).
Today’s ride to Shakespear Park on the Whangaparaoa Peninsula – no kiwis were spotted on the zebra crossing.





  1. Wow! You took the plunge! The next bikes look very chic and what a joy to sail uphill. Good decision – those bikes.
    We were thinking about you 2 today as we passed many shops in Corfu that Ruth would have loved browsing in. But it looks like you’re having a fine time back home for now. Enjoy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oftentimes, going downhill is just as difficult as going uphill (whether walking or riding) with a whole ‘nuther set of muscles and skills involved. The electric bikes look like a great solution and it looks like they will open up a lot of routes and wanderings that you’ve always thought were too hilly. By the time you get to Portugal, you’ll be pros! Anita

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have had our moments walking down hills and eventually invested in walking poles to help the steep decents. Ruth got to try her new bike yesterday and was all smiles at the end of the ride. So far so good. we


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