The Great NZ Walks

July 16th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Nick Smith just released visitor numbers for the nine Great NZ walks. In order they are:

  1. Abel Tasman 28,739
  2. Routeburn Track 12,917
  3. Kepler Track 10,358
  4. Milford Track 7,275
  5. Whanganui Journey 6,260
  6. Heaphy Track 6,118
  7. Lake Waikaremoana 5,936
  8. Tongariro Northern Circuit 5,651
  9. Rakiura Track 3,619

Overall usage is up 9.5% to 86,873.

I’m doing the Heaphy, Tongariro and Milford walks this summer. Very much looking forward to them.

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Storm aftermath

July 3rd, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Went up Te Ahumairangi (Tinakori) Hill this morning for the first time since the storm. I think there were some signs up saying the tracks were impassable. This wasn’t quite the case, but it did involve a fair amount of climbing, on squeezing under fallen trees.

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Fairly easy over that one.

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Under that one.

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The dog went under that one, and we went over it!

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This was very thick to get through.

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Under and over these ones coming up.

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And the main Northern Walkway route has basically a trail of destruction on it towards the end.

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The City to Sea Walkway

March 25th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

City to Sea


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The City to Sea Walkway was the final walk of my summer of 13 big Wellington walks. Probably the most challenging as there are almost no flat parts to it, you go up and down almost a dozen times.

The official guide says this walk takes six hours but I managed to do it in just under three hours. Did this one solo as everyone else was busy so you go faster when not talking and walking! Got to listen to some the Economist podcasts until me headphones died.

Starts at the Bolton Street Cemetery and goes up into the Botanical Garden up to the Cable Car. Then down into Kelburn Park and through the Mount Street Cemetery at VUW. You then head along above the Terrace past Boyd Wilson Field and down into Aro Valley.

Then up through Tanera Park and the community gardens there passing into Central Park. You go up over the Renouf Tennis Centre and into Nairn Street Park and Prince of Wales Park. then through some town belt into McAlister Park .
After all the parks you hit the Berhampore Golf Course, then trek up from that to the Tawatawa Ridge and then mainly downhill until you hit the climb up to the Oku Street Reserve. From there you go down into Shorland Park in island Bay on the South coast.

It’s my favourite walkway as it just sneakily manages to link all these discrete parks together, while winding its way from the city to the South coast. Many great views to be enjoyed.

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Skyline Walkway

March 4th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Skyline


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The Skyline Walk is one of the best walks in Wellington as you get a near continual view of not just the city and harbour, but also of the Western coastline.

The 12 km walk starts at Johnsonville and finishes at the South end of Karori at the saddle of Makara Road.

There is an initial climb up to Mt Kaukau, but after that it is a fairly easy walk to Karori (with the exception of one further steep climb). Very well signposted and the track varies from 4WD paths to narrow goat like paths. Fun when someone comes the other way!

The continual views make this a great walk. Took just over three and a half hours.

This was walk no 11 of the 13 walks over summer. Just two to go.

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The fenceline walk

February 24th, 2013 at 1:32 pm by David Farrar

Fenceline


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An 8.5 km hike around the fenceline of the Karori Sanctuary, Zealandia. It has 460 metres of vertical elevation so is a good challenge. It is the same route as the annual gutbuster run.

We started at the Zealandia and climb up to the Brooklyn Wind Turbine. The odd flat piece, but mainly uphill.

From the wind turbine you continue along the fence towards Hawkins Hill but then veer back towards Karori. You think you do not have much more climbing to go, but actually the track drops down into a valley which then gives you another big climb up to Wrights Hill.

From Wrights Hill, it is mainly downhill. The track next to the fenceline is so steep at parts you are advised to use an alternate zigzag down, which we did.

Some great views, and a reasonable distance to go from Karori to Brooklyn and back.

Big ups to all the cyclists on the shared path. Everyone helpfully yells out that they are approaching you, what side of the path they are on, and how many of them there are.

If anyone knows what the berries are in one of the photos, feel free to comment.

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Makara

February 18th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Went to Makara on Sunday, to do the Makara loop walk. Been doing a largish walk ever Sunday over summer. Despite the fact I had Round the Bays in the morning, still did the walk in the afternoon – and very glad I did.

I haven’t been to Makara for years, so it was a good reason to head over.

The walk starts at the main beach and a fairly easy walk around a couple of bays, before the hill climb starts.

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It is a bit of a bitch of a climb as it is more straight up than zigzag. However there is a mixture of semi-flat spells and climbs, so overall quite achievable. And as you can see the views are worth it.

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The old gun batteries are now fenced off. This is a pity as I recall several fun teenage overnight parties held in them. The guns were never used and replaced during the war by the larger gun at Wrights Hill.

Just up from the gun batteries are the remains of Fort Opau, with some fascinating photos and histories. Around 60 soldiers lived up there.

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From the gun batteries, you get a great view of the wind turbines to the South.

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After Fort Opau, you hit the West Wind Recreation Area. The turbines are so much larger than the original Brooklyn one. And much more powerful. The Brooklyn one could power around 80 homes. The 622 West Wind turbines can power 71,000 homes, which happens to be the number of homes in Wellington City.

The historical display boards up there are fascinating. There used to be a settlement of around 20 houses built around the Post Office facilities up there.

Even if you are not into walking, you can drive to the West Wind area. A good place to take kids out to – great views, and some interesting history.

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After West Wind, you head down to Opau Bay. The start is through a nice pine forest, but most of it is down a very steep 4WD track. I pitied the fishermen walking up it!

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The return journey along the beach took longer than expected. There isn’t really a trail. The beach changes from sand, to small rocks, to larger rocks to huge rocks you have to climb over. Nothing too hard, but slow work in a hot sun. However the solitude and the views are worth it.

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A couple of families had trekked around and were having a great day of it. The water was actually quite warm we were told. I was very tempted to go in myself.

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And finally the end in sight. The only disappointment was we got back just after the store closed. The thought of an ice cream at the end had been giving me motivation!

Around three hours to do an 8 km loop. One of the most enjoyable walks I’ve done with the mixture of views and history.

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Victoria Park

January 12th, 2013 at 6:02 pm by David Farrar

Victoria Park


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This track/s turned out to take three hours as the hill climbs were extensive, but over the 11 kms you get some amazing views of both Christchurch, and the harbour.

But in terms of track markings it was the total opposite of the tracks at Bottle Lake Forest Park. The latter had track signs every few score metres, making it so easy to follow. The tracks around Victoria Park were missing markers at many a fork or intersection, forcing you to guess.

It didn’t help that the visitor’s centre was closes due to quake damage, and hence no track pamphlets available. Anyway I started off down a path to Bowenvale Reserve. The path forked and the fork I chose was the one that goes down steep banks, rather than steps. Eventually rejoined the main track.

Then you walk along the Bowenvale Reserve in a lovely valley. Again they have dispensed with marking the track up the hill, so I walked all the way to the road, and then doubled back until guessing it was the zig zag track on the left.

The zig zag up is a vertical elevation of around 400 metres and you have a few sheep to keep you company. Finally you get to the top, and once again they dispense with anything useful such as clearly marked track names. I guessed that heading towards Sugarloaf would be the right thing to do, and after a short walk along the road (in 30 degree heat!) I saw the Crater Rim Walkway, which I joined and there were stunning views from.

After the crater rim walkway, I took another track around the back of Sugarloaf, which again had some great views. Upon exiting that track I saw the back of a sign, and upon turning around to read it, I discovered the track was closed due to rockfall danger. It really would have been useful for them to put these signs up at both sides of the track – not just one side!

By this stage I was bloody hot and tired and had been mentally anticipating a nice drink at the cafe at the Sign of the Kiwi. Would have been nice for them to have a sign up at Victoria Park itself that Sign of the Kiwi was also closed. I let out a small yell of annoyance, and then proceeded down some path (Harry something) back to the Victoria Park carpark. Once again they neglected to have signs up at any forks, and I choose the fork which took me down around 1 km below the carpark, so finished with a walk back up the hill. Was a rather annoying afternoon, despite the great views. Took me three hours in total.

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Bottle Lake Forest Park

January 11th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Bottle Lake Forest Park

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Thought I’d do a few walks during my break in Christchurch so headed north slightly to the Bottle Lake Forest Park.

I did the blue trail which is around 10 kms in length and is a very well signposted walk. Almost impossible not to follow the trail as they have markers every few score metres.

Most of the time you have a pleasant walk in the shade of the forest. There is a long stretch along the boundary of an exclusion zone, and then on the return leg there is a sandy patch which on a hot day is somewhat draining. Walking uphill on sand slows you down considerably.

The park is a multi-use area so you get walkers, cyclists, runners and horse riders. Not generally on the same track, but the paths often intersect so always need to watch out. Oh yeah, also the odd truck on the forest roads you cross.

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Rob Roy Glacier

January 4th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

This half day walk must rank of one of the most spectacular in New Zealand. I can not recommend it highly enough.

Even the drive to the starting point is superbly scenic. You drive for around an hour from Wanaka into the Matukituki Valley. Most of the 54 km road is unsealed and you cross around half a dozen fords, but they can be done without a 4WD. The drive through the valley is beautiful, with scores of waterfalls.

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You park at Raspberry Flat and head off along the West Matukituki River.

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You walk through farmland for around 15 minutes.

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Then you have the swing bridge over the West Matukituki River. It is rather bouncy!

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There is a fairly steep ascent, and then you get a nice view of the Matukituki Valley as you fork off it. Those who are doing overnight tramps continue up the valley.

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A lovely backdrop at the rest bench, where Earnest Girl and I take a break.

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You then head along next to the Rob Roy Stream, and again reasonably steep climb in places, but not too bad. You ascend around 400 metres in total. As you can see, a few challenges along the way.

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If that rock came down, you’d need DNA to identify you!

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They may call it a stream, but it is pretty strong as the glacier water flows down it. You spend most of your time next to the stream.

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Almost at the top, this is the view of where you have come from.

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Then you see the bottom of the Rob Roy Glacier. You end up less than 100 metres from it, and the ice is 15 metres or so thick I would say. Despite being so high up, it wasn’t too cold – even in t-shirt and shorts.

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One of the waterfalls at the top.

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The end of the track, with some information on the glacier.

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One of the Keas that hangs around there.

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Our group about to start the champagne lunch to celebrate making it up there.

Rob Roy Glacier


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Above is the map of the trail. It is 10 kms in total, and up took around 90 minutes and down around 75 minutes. Again, it is a stunning walk, and must be one of the best in NZ. We all had a great time.

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Lake Hayes

January 4th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

In Queenstown I was staying at the Lake Hayes Estate, which is of course next to Lake Hayes. I’ve heard about the lovely walk around the lake, but the weather looked like I wouldn’t get to do it. However on my last day there, the rain stopped around 7 pm, so I headed out. It was around 15 minutes to the lake, and I did the circuit in around 90 minutes. The last quarter I jogged as I heard thunder and the rain started again.

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On the path down to the lake, a paddock of deer.

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You then start off at lake level on a nice path.

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Then as you go up, you get a pretty great lake view. Bear in mind this is in the evening.

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The path winds around the hills.

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Another great lake view.

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Then after you head down, you circle around through nice grass areas.

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A very old house on the lakefront.

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And a much more modern one. A lakeside house would be very cool. Many of them have boats out front.

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And finally a bush walk path back to the beginning.

A very serene walk, if you are in the area.

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Mt Victoria Loop Walk

December 23rd, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Did the Mt Vic loop walk this morning. At first overcast and looked like rain, but by the end of the walk, the sun had burnt all the cloud away and was sweltering. 85 minutes in total and you do 5 kms but a fair amount of uphill. It is basically a figure of eight loop.

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You start at Charles Plimmer Park at the top of Majoribanks Street and head up on the Hataitai to City walk track. This is the one that had Lord of the Rings filmed just off it.

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A view of central to southern suburbs as you head along the western side of Mt Vic.

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That looks like some sort of observatory near Government House. Anyone know what it is exactly?

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Nice shadowy bush track on the eastern side.

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This tree is on a definite lean!

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The Hataitai Velodrome, which you circle around.

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Charles Plimmer Park where you start and finish.

There are literally scores of walking and cycling tracks on Mt Vic. If I loved lived next to it, I’d spend all my time exploring them.

The loop track isn’t signposted as such. It is a combination of four other tracks. But once you work out where to go, it is a great view of both the CBD and the eastern suburbs.

Last time I did this track, they found a dead person there the next day – hopefully no repeat this time!

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Wind Turbine to Red Rocks walk

December 16th, 2012 at 2:19 pm by David Farrar

Red Rocks


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This was a fun, but tough walk.

The first couple of kms are the popular walk from the Brooklyn Wind Turbine to the Hawkins Hill Radar. Uphill, but not too steep except at the end as you pass the Wellington Castle and the nice dogs there try to jump over the fence to rip your throat out.

Instead of turning back, you carry on past the radar, and carry along the 4WD track past a couple more communication buildings. You get great views of the western wind turbines as you head towards the trig station. Pretty windy up there.

The track from the trig on is more narrow and mainly downhill. It is incredibly steep in some places, and combined with gravel paths, the potential for disaster is high. I only fell over once (a nice grazed right leg to show for it) but at times had to side-step down the slope. It was tough going.

While mainly downhill, there are parts where you go back uphill again, and again very steep in parts. We did a total of around 250 metres vertically uphill and 600 metres vertically downhill.

Towards the end you hit the old WWII observation bunkers. Stunning views of the ocean and South Island. The map says there is a track to the right and to the left. However to the right looked like a cliff, smelt like a cliff, sounded like a cliff and we concluded was a cliff. We later learnt there is no path there now.

The path to the left (follow the yellow markers) turned out to have its challenges also. At first a nice walk down a valley, but then it joined another valley and the path turned into a stream. And while the stream had little water, it had a downhill gradient in places of 45 degrees or so. Think climbing down wet rocks, more than walking.

It was with some relief we hit Red Rocks below. A bach owner told us we were the only people that weekend to do the track. I was not totally surprised. Don’t get me wrong – I loved the challenge, and the views. But the steep downhill is not for the faint hearted.

We then had a three km walk or so around the coastline to the Te Kopahau car park. Almost 12 kms all up and took three hours 20 minutes.

Next week in the Mt Victoria loop track which will be considerably easier.

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Otari Skyline Loop Walk

December 1st, 2012 at 4:26 pm by David Farrar

Otari Skyline


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Did this afternoon the Otari Skyline loop walk, which starts at the Troup Picnic Area and up the blue trail too the 800 year old Rimu tree. Then carry on uphill, with a fairly steep incline, until you cross the pine forest and hit the open. A bit further uphill gets you to the Skyline Track and you follow this North for a bit and then head back down to Otari via the yellow trail.

Took 1 hr 45 minutes, which was good as the guide book said two and a half hours. Some great views and good workout for the calves.

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The Southern Walkway

November 19th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Southern Walkway


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On Sunday myself and Jordan and Ski Bunny Girl and Gym Girl did the Southern Walkway. My plan is to do 13 great Wellington walks over 13 weekends. This was the first of them.

Despite growing up in the southern suburbs, I had never done the Southern Walkway before. We started off in Island Bay and walked around the bays to Houghton Bay. I bored everyone with stories of my how I used to deliver papers there and my techniques for maximising tips!

Then up the hill through Melrose and Mt Albert with good views of the Southern and Eastern suburbs. Then you head down through Newtown hitting the boundary of the zoo and seeing the orangutans. Go through the hidden away Truby King Park which looked so nice I’m going to head back just to explore.

We then headed down to near Kilbirnie, then up Mt Victoria. Eventually hitting the lookout where the girls doted on a huge dog (it was only 6 months old, so will grow to double its current size which was already close to a polar bear!), and finally a winding path down to Oriental Bay, with some stunning views on the way.

The guide says it takes four to five hours, and we did it in two and three quarters of an hour so a reasonably good pace considering there are two hills large hills to traverse.

Next weekend is the Sanctuary to Sea walkway.

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Stellin

June 11th, 2012 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

Stellin


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This walk is not one I am going to recommend, unless you are masochistic. At the very end of the Northern Walkway I had noted a track going up to the Stellin Memorial Park. Now I have been there before (via road from Northland) and on the map it didn’t look far up.

Most of the upwards tracks on Te Ahumairangi Hill are of moderate difficulty. They zig zag up for several hundred metres. This track basically just goes straight up the hill, with only a bit of sideways action.

On the way up I passed a couple heading down, and said I was looking forward to the downhill part. I was wrong. I did eventually get up to the lovely grass area with a great view. Rather exhausted, I have to say. Then I started back down.

The track was muddy, narrow and steep. A bad combination. Despite being as careful as I can, I managed to fall onto my backside no less than four times. My buttocks now look like an over-enthusiastic Dominatrix got let loose on them. I almost slid down the bank also.

This is not a track I would recommend unless you are a lot fitter and nimbler than me – and more masochistic.

After I got back down, I then crossed the road and did a short circuit of part of the Botanical Gardens. Went right to the southern end, which I had not been to before. Plan to do more jogs through there.

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The Eastern Walkway

June 10th, 2012 at 12:21 pm by David Farrar

Eastern Walkway


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Ever since DC Girl moved to Seatoun, have been keen to do the Eastern Walkway as so close to her place. We started at the Pass of Branda and it is a steep climb up the hill.

Once you get to the top, there are some excellent views of the harbour and hills.

Moving along coastline, you might think it is all flat once you are at the top. But actually you go up and down several more times, until you reach the Ataturk memorial at Tarakena Bay. A very nice grassed area with great views.

The walk is just under 5 kms, but the number of climbs means that it does take around 90 minutes to do the return trip, so you feel like it has been a longer trek.

A popular walk, with heaps of joggers and dog walkers. Rugby came along also, and did his best to trip me up while going down the steps.

There’s a number of side-routes one can do also, so plan to explore them at some stage.

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Sanctuary to Sea Walkway

May 28th, 2012 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

Sanctuary to Sea


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I had wanted to do the Sanctuary to Sea walk for a while, but as it is not a loop needs two cars. As I roped in Stats Girl, Mr Stats Girls and DC Girl, along with their three dogs, we did it on Saturday leaving one car at Zealandia, and drove to Trellisick Park. Despite the name of the walk you finish, not start, at the sanctuary.

Trellisick Park I have done several times, and was as always a pleasant walk next to the stream. I must be getting fitter as the steep climb section seemed less strenuous.

Once you reach Wightwick’s Field, you carry on and eventually emerge on Waikowhai Street. Then you turn left and carry on the main road until you reach the entrance to Wilton Otari Bush. You enter the reserve and just folow the main track until you get to the picnic area. Then follow the blue track uphill, and after a bit of a climb you suddenly have some graves about you.

You then have a walk past hundreds of graves in a part of Karori Cemetery I didn’t even know existed. I liked the area so much that I even said this could be a good backup location for my future grave, if I can’t get into the Bolton Cemetery (which will need some sort of law change).

You then exit the cemetery and then walk down to the park, and back to Zealandia.

Around 7.5 kms, and took just under two hours. A really nice walk, and I was amazed one could spend so much of that distance amongst bush. We are lucky in Wellington.

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Tawatawa Reserve

May 21st, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Tawatawa Reserve


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The first time I have done the Tawatawa Reserve loop track, and enjoyed it greatly. Some great southern views, with its location in Owhiro Bay.

It is a very diverse track. You start off on the flat in open plains. You then go up the hill, mainly on open tracks. However once you get up the hill, you end up walking through bush a fair bit.

A nice walk over to a reservoir, with some good views on the way. Then from the reservoir you join the City to Sea walkway for a bit and have a climb up no less than 145 steps! Nice views of Berhampore Golf Course and surrounds.

From there you then carry on uphill a bit more until you get to a lovely flat field at the top. Great views of Cook Strait from here. You are close to the area where the Wellington landfill used to be, before it swapped to the other side of Happy Valley Road. I can recall coming to this old landfill a few times as a kid with my Dad. Pleased to say now all grass area and no smell!

Also here is a pouwhenua placed there by the Tapu-te-Ranga Marae.

From here it is all downhill. On the way down you go through a pine forest, which adds to the diversity of experience from open plains, to hillside tracks, to bush trails, to steps, to flat fields and then the pine forest.

We got back to the car park in just under an hour. The official guide says 90 minutes. Only 3 kms in length, but the terrain is steep in places, which is good for burning up energy.

Definitely one I’m keen to do again. There are also some other walks in that area you can do.

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Te Ahumairangi Hill

April 18th, 2012 at 7:00 pm by David Farrar

Te Ahumairangi Hill


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Started on Wadestown Road at the dog exercise area, as there is parking there.

It’s a pretty steep climb up the hill. You climb around 120 metres over a 500 meter walk, so that is a pretty tiring climb. As you go up you’ll see four or five intersections, but ignore them as they will just take you back down. Keep going until you hit the actual Northern Walkway.

Once you are up there, then fairly easy going along the Northern Walkway. Just before the end there is a steep path down and then you pass behind Premier House before you can come down either on St Marys Road or Grant Road.

Once down on the road, then a small hike back up Wadestown Road to where the car is!

A nice scenic sub-hour walk for a lunch break.

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Trelissick Park

April 16th, 2012 at 7:00 pm by David Farrar

Trelissick Park


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A lovely hidden walk in the Ngaio Gorge. You enter Trelissick Park from Kaiwharawhara Road, and most of the time you are walking a path next to the stream.

It’s around a 2 km walk to Wightwick’s Field, which is a nice place for a picnic, and then the same return so an easy 4 kms in total.
Dogs are allowed off the leash so popular with dog owners.
There’s one reasonably steep hill you go over, but other than that mainly flat.
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Korokoro Dam

March 29th, 2012 at 7:25 am by David Farrar

Korokoro Dam


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A commenter suggested I download Tracks for my iPhone and seems to work great. Maps your walk and you can add details and photos to it.

Just 10 minutes drive north of Wellington you find Cornish Street in Petone, which is at the corner of Belmont Regional Park.

Entering into the park you follow the Korokoro stream for just over four kms to the Korokoro dam – the first dam constructed in New Zealand.
The trial is pretty flat – the odd slope upwards. However it is a narrow path and at times quite high up, so your overall pace is slower than other terrains.
Within a minute though you are into 100% bush, and several wooden bridges as you cross over the stream several times. There is a small dam a few hundred metres along the route, but the big dam is a fair hike. The signs say 90 minutes each way, but we took around 50 to 55 minutes in each direction.
My first time in Belmont. Will definitely return as one can not only go to the dam, but also to trig stations or do a one way trip coming out in the North.
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