Nga Manu is a must see for visitors to Waikanae.
Fed up with traffic jams and tailbacks as far as you can see? Here's an idea. You can do without your car if you want a day or a few days away. Hop on the train at Wellington's grand station and head north to the historic little station at Waikanae.
Ahha, you say. What then? No car, remember?
Well, here's what then. We've thought it all through for you and it's in a useful brochure published by the District Council and Destination Waikanae.
Within a few minutes walk from the station, you can explore the nearby genesis of Waikanae with its beautiful church and 100 year old dairy. You can find the pretty village centre with its choice of cafes and a few quirky shops and galleries, sculptures and murals (and the Information Centre with that useful little brochure).
Up the hill 15 minutes from the station: the leafy green beauty of Hemi Matenga reserve and glorious views.
Not that keen on walking? A few minutes onward and you will find Burnsie's Bikes where you can hire a range of bikes from mountain to E-bikes suitable for all riding ages and skills.
Nga Manu, the world famous nature reserve, is reachable on your bike, as is the popular cycleway which will take you as far as you want to go up or down the coast.
Sarah Field, Marketing Manager of Nga Manu, says biking visitor numbers have increased since the cycleway opening.
"A refreshing icecream and on their way. One family makes regular visits using taxis. We hope that all those new developments in Waikanae will mean a Nga Manu bus link one day soon."
Looking for rural charm? Take your bike (or a friendly local cab) up to the Reikorangi Valley a few kilometres west. Peace, a quiet river and a cuppa at the pottery cafe will refresh you.
And don't forget the old standby, the local buses. They meet every train and can get you to the lively open air pool and the best beach in the district (say the locals, and on one has disagreed with that lately.)
So we think we're pretty much in the forefront of going carless for at least some of the time.
Many cities are reducing dependence on cars. Why not extend that thought and find ways to explore beyond the city boundaries without a car? Small towns like Waikanae are a good place to start.
Norma McCallum, a Waikanae resident for 30 years, likes small town living and enjoys all the 'strangers' who flood the town during holidays.