Danielle Wright takes a bike ride down memory lane, peddling past quaint caravans and kitsch holiday homes in Orewa.

Although it's done up in its Sunday Best for the RWC, with an international feel to the main centre, Orewa retains its old-fashioned beach holiday feel. I can almost smell the hot-dogs on sticks being given out by my grandparents as we sat around in togs on summer holidays; holidays where a bike ride around the streets on a glittery yellow banana-seat bike was the most fun thing to do.

These days, my more mature mountain bike sits unloved in the garage, crammed in behind the tricycles and scooters, and a large plastic Thomas the Tank Engine ride-on. Rather than wrestle it out, we decide to pick up rental bikes at BikeME in Orewa village. It's a much more civilised option.

We're given a family bike with a kid's trailer, a kind of tent on wheels, attached behind it. It's a bit of a shaky start as I get used to riding through narrow spaces while looking behind me to check my wriggly two-year-old is okay. I needn't worry; she's fine and doesn't even protest as we cruise past three playgrounds along the beachfront.

We cross a busy road to reach the new Te Ara Tahuna cycleway which lets us pedal around mostly sealed tracks and across five bridges to circle the Orewa Estuary and Crocodile Island, now planted with native trees. While it's a designated cycleway, the trend for social walkers to chat in a wide line causes a few barriers and with a trailer on the back, it's impossible to ride around them, so, with no bell or horn, I revert to the old-fashioned: "beep, beep, excuse me!" approach.


The ride takes about an hour and though the view isn't the most spectacular, there are some interesting things on the way around. A tiny burst of forest and impressive bridges, as well as colourful locals to say "good morning" to as they tend lovingly-maintained homes.

It's a nostalgic trip past house-proud homes built by people who seem to love sitting on their lawn next to outdoor fireplaces watching people stroll past. One lawn looks like a pop-up tacky ornament museum and another is kitsch-ly cute called The Wall-Dorff.

Almost at the end of the ride, we take a break at a section along the water where a rope swing hangs on a tree and a rowboat lies next to a wooden seat. It's a good place to stop, except it's here my daughter decides she now wants to walk .

I convince her to get back into the trailer and I give her the important job of photographer - it works, and some quite interesting shots are taken for the family album.

We travel back past a glass display with soil and shell remnants underneath. Thinking it's a messy neighbour who hasn't bothered to install their garden lights properly, I don't pay it much attention. I'm later informed it's a Maori midden dating back 350 years.

Living on the North Shore, for us Orewa is about the same drive time as Devonport, without Lake Rd to contend with. It's also less crowded, the beaches are clean with great playgrounds and cafes all in safe walking, or bike riding, distance.

It's ease of location and lack of mystique shouldn't discourage holidaymakers today, it has everything you need for a good old-fashioned beach holiday - even if it is just for one day, you'll leave feeling like it's been a week.

On your bikes
* BikeMe is Shop 5, The Village, Cnr Hibiscus Coast Highway and Moenui Avenue, Orewa. Open Sat 9-5pm, Sun 1-6pm, telephone 09 421 1200. Family bikes are $10 per hour/$30 half day and sports bikes are $25 an hour, $35 two hours or $45 half-day. Tandems, tridems, kids' bikes and trailers are all available.

* Not sure which road to take along the cycleway? Just follow the blue footprints.

* Bring your own bike helmet, especially for the kids and don't forget the mosquito repellent!