Māori travelled in waka and navigated by the stars to reach the east coast. Later, Europeans steered tall ships and navigated with sextants, crossing the globe and making discoveries along this coast. Today, I begin to chart the Hawke’s Bay Trails by bicycle and my navigation tools of choice are three GPS units. While transport and navigation methods have changed through the centuries, one thing remains constant: the need to find one’s way in life. I consider my life to be strongly influenced by geography; witness my chosen work path as a cartographer. So it is that I find myself in Napier ready to plot a course along this extensive network of cycle trails, to make maps for the Great Rides App and to help other lifestylers find their way.

The trail wraps around the harbourside – a perfect place to both dine or play

My first discovery takes place upon opening the car door. Parked at East Pier I’m immediately taken aback by the heat. It is a welcome warmth after the cool autumn rides I’m used to in the deep south I call home. The climate here seems so idyllic, and the relaxed charm of harbourside al fresco dining puts me in a holiday mood straight away. Although this is no recreational trip, I decide on a slower pace to survey this trail. Onto my bike I go. My first trail companions are not fellow riders but burly men crossing the path carrying seafood crates off their docked fishing boats. I smile. I like how the Great Rides has you crossing paths with people from all walks of life.

The Westshore strip of Norfolk pines and leisurely riders

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