Sarah Lawrence braves dodgy Auckland weather to take a city bike tour with her son.
There's something to be said for cycling round Auckland on a filthy day: you can have the normally bustling Wynyard Quarter all to yourself.
Not that it was planned that way. The idea was actually to take advantage of Auckland's balmy summer weather to explore the increasingly interesting city centre by bike. But I forgot to tell the weatherman.
I have had the high-octane experience of cycling through the inner city, during my fitness phase a few years ago, when I did a daily commute from Pt Chevalier to Albert St.
This time I planned to explore the city in rather more relaxed fashion, joining my 11-year-old son Jack on a gentle tour, using new Avanti mountain bikes hired from Adventure Capital.
This is a company which has built up a mostly online business hiring out camping and tramping kits, and more recently mountain bikes, mainly to tourists.
The idea has proved so popular that it now has a centre in Christchurch and a hire store in Commerce St, in the heart of Auckland, though it also delivers hire equipment to homes and hotels.
Adventure Capital can recommend any number of routes around Auckland, whether it be within the CBD, along the waterfront to St Heliers or much larger loops stretching through the sprawling suburbs, and the bikes are also suitable for off-road use.
However, Jack and I decided to stick to the inner city, exploring the newly opened Wynyard Quarter, then moving on to the Auckland Fish Market and finishing with lunch in one of the many fine restaurants in the precinct.
As we set off from home, we noticed some rather menacing clouds looming over the city and, by the time we arrived to collect our bikes, the heavens had opened and an icy wind was whirling in from the harbour.
It's common knowledge Aucklanders can often experience four seasons in one day, but this was more like two polar opposites in two hours. Still, Jack and I being hardy Kiwis, we decided to make the best of it.
On the upside, the bikes were sleek, light and very easy to manoeuvre, even in the driving rain and wind.
We headed off along Quay St, over the drawbridge and into Wynyard Quarter, where we discovered the place was almost empty, as everyone else in Auckland had obviously stayed home where it was warm and dry.
Not us, though - we braved the elements, swerving through the puddles that had formed in the innovative children's playground, speeding around the stark backdrop of tall concrete silos stretching up to the skyline.
After exploring the park, we headed to the Auckland Fish Market where we locked up our bikes (the hire includes helmets and locks) and ventured in to absorb the sights and smells.
The market is clearly popular because even on such a vile day people had ventured out to choose their dinner from the vast array of fresh fish and produce.
We were more concerned about lunch, so we did a tour of the many eateries within Wynyard Quarter and, after careful consideration, peeled off our saturated raincoats and opted for the warmest dish on the menu.
It's easy to see why Adventure Capital's bike hire service is so popular. Cycling is a great way to explore what the city has to offer ... even if the weather isn't quite what you'd hope for.
I've already been back once, to take the photos that weren't really possible in the pouring rain, and we'll give it another try soon - though next time we might just pack an extra raincoat.
You can find out about exploring Auckland by bike at Adventure Capital's outlet, 23 Commerce St.
Sarah Lawrence cycled the city courtesy of Adventure Capital.By Sarah Lawrence