A “public art installation” that has sprung up in a Wellington bus shelter will be dismantled in favour of wooden benches.
A Brooklyn bus shelter was mysteriously transformed into an impromptu lounge room at the weekend, complete with two tattered couches, a small library and a hot water bottle.
By early yesterday someone had added Christmas tinsel, a clock, a picture, an icecream container full of lemons and a life-sized plastic dog.
I think that is great. How cool would it be to have couches to sit on and books to read at a bus stop.
Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the council was no closer to uncovering who was responsible. He said the scene would be removed before contractors arrived tomorrow to reinstall benches.
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.
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.
Makara is one of my favourite parts of Wellington. I love the drive over to the rugged coastline, and can spend hours just enjoying the view from the cafe there. Incidentally it is a very good date location – you take them to Makara, get the superb ice creams at the cafe, play foosball on the near antique table and take in the view.
You can also hike up to the old gun emplacements and I’ve even done a Makara to Island Bay weekend tramp on a couple of occasions around the bays.
Anyway Sustainable Coastlines and Meridian are having aa clean up of Makara Beach tomorrow (Sat 24).
This spectacular piece of coastline is well looked after by locals everywhere with public access, but the area is heavily affected by a regular flow of waste from fisheries in the Tasman Sea, the Whanganui River and Marlborough mussel farms.
The rugged terrain of Meridian’s West Wind Farm, usually closed to the public, will be opened-up for this special one-day event, marking Meridian’s commitment to work with the entire community look after their local stretch of coastline. This will give volunteers the opportunity to experience remarkable views next to the enormous windmills and areas like Te Ikaamaru Bay – which is so stacked with rubbish that those who are familiar call it ‘plastic beach’.
Volunteers are invited to join the clean-up crew for a fantastic day out exploring the area and give something back to the beautiful Makara coastline.
Meet at the Sustainable Coastlines display container on Makara Beach at 10am, Saturday 24 November to sign-in and collect equipment. From Makara participants will split into teams and head out along the coastline on foot and by 4WD to clean-up the area from Makara Beach around to Ohau Bay. Free lunch will be provided from 1pm at Makara Beach with the support of Meridian Energy, whose staff will be mucking-in to cleanup too.
I’m in Dunedin otherwise I’d absolutely be there. A great way to make a difference to a special part of Wellington. I just ove the views from there. If you have some time available on Saturday consider helping out.
State Services Minister Dr Jonathan Coleman says a new Public Service property strategy is likely to reduce the office space foot print in Wellington by the equivalent of three Reserve Bank buildings.
Dr Coleman says Cabinet has approved the start of a centralised negotiation for future public service office space in the capital with accommodation leases due to expire for five large government agencies.
The leases due to expire include the Ministries of Social Development, Health, Education and Business Innovation and Employment, and the Crown Law Office.
The Property Management Centre of Expertise based within the Ministry of Social Development has been delegated to lead the negotiation for the accommodation needs. …
A business case presented to Cabinet indicated a reduction of the office footprint in Wellington of 30 per cent will save $338 million over 20 years, which is a 20 per cent reduction in cost compared with the status quo baseline.
Sounds good to me. If that achieve that, there are benefits beyond the direct savings. The ever increasing size of the public sector in the 2000s saw office rental costs in Wellington CBD skyrocket. This imposed significant costs on private businesses. Having reduced demand from the public sector should see smaller increases in rental prices for commercial tenants.
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.
One Lord Mayor for the region is being heralded as the future of local governance for Wellington.
An independent panel headed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer today revealed its proposal for how local councils should be structured.
Under the structure there would be:
* A Greater Wellington Council with 10 councillors headed by a Lord Mayor, who would be elected by the public.
* Six local area councils: Wellington, Porirua, Kapiti, Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt and Wairarapa.
* Each council would have a ‘‘mayoral figurehead’’, elected by the council, not the public.
* The current level of 107 elected mayors and councillors would reduce to 79.
* The Greater Wellington Council would be responsible for all finances, including setting a single rate for the region. It would also look after regional matters such as environmental issues and transport planning.
* The local area councils would be responsible for local service delivery, such as rubbish collection and park management, and local engagement and advocacy.
* Local area councils would have budgets negotiated with the Wellington Regional Council and would be responsible for funds allocated to them.
I think Sir Geoffrey’s proposed structure is a great improvement on the status quo. The name Lord Mayor is silly, but having an elected Mayor for the whole Region would give Wellington a much more effective voice.
Councillors would sit for a four-year term, but would be restricted to a three-term maximum.
I am a huge fan of term limits, and think we should have them for Parliament also. A term limit means politicians focus more on what they can achieve in their limited tenure of service, rather than how to get re-elected for ever.
The proposal is here. However they have not put a suffix on it, so it comes up file type unknown. Open it as a pdf. It’s a weighty 208 pages long and the panel that unanimously recommends the structure is Sir Geoffrey, Sue Driver, Sir Wira Gardiner and Bryan Jackson.
TheInsider is an app which shows you in Wellington (I believe it will expand) where all the bar, cafe and restaurant specials are near you – or just generally in Wellington. I’ve been waiting for an app like this.
It is free for the month of August, so get in quick.
It is very easy to use, and you can view the specials in list order or on a map. I’ll be using it whenever I am drifting in town.
Parts of coastal Wellington could be drowned if doomsday climate change predictions from a new study pan out over the next 100 years.
Two reports issued yesterday by Greater Wellington regional council show Wellington’s sea level is the fastest rising in New Zealand – made worse by seismic rumblings causing the city to sink 1.7mm a year since 2000.
Worst-case scenarios coupling massive sea level rise with intense storm floods show low-lying coastal parts of the Eastbourne bays, Petone, Pauatahanui, as well as the river mouths at Otaki, Hutt, Whakataki (near Castlepoint), and Waikanae and the lower Wairarapa valley, could be forever swamped if sea levels rose 1.5m by 2115.
The scenario of 1.5m in 100 years is rather detached from reality. It would be sea level rise 10 times faster than what is actually happening. A 1.7mm rise a year is 17cm over 100 years if the rate stayed the same. Now sure it may increase – but it is not going to be 10 times as fast.
A reminder that the latest IPCC forecast is that on average over 100 years sea levels will rise between 19 and 59 cm. A 1.5m increase is three times greater than the “maximum” forecast by the last IPCC report.
On the plus side, the doomsday map shows that my apartment block will become a beachfront property, which would be great. So I’m all in favour.
Police have named a Wellington woman whose body was found on Mt Victoria but say it could take six weeks to determine how she died.
She was Sofia Helen Athanassiou, of Newtown.
The 39-year-old was found by a group of joggers about 11am on Monday off a running track near Alexandra Park, above Wellington Girls’ East College.
By coincidence I was walking with a friend on the same area of Mt Vic the previous (Sunday) morning. And there was a (in hindsight) slightly surreal conversation as at one point the track splits and we went down the path which was very bushy and surrounded by trees. My walking companion said “Are you taking me down this way so you can …”. I interrupted and said “No I only dispose of bodies in swamps, not forests”. She exclaimed back “I was going to say have sex with me, not kill me. Why are you thinking of killing me”. My response was “I’m not, why are you thinking of having sex with me”. We both laughed and carried on.
So it was rather weird to then read barely 24 hours later someone had been found dead in close to the same location.
He said an autopsy completed late yesterday was inconclusive and police were awaiting the results of further laboratory tests which may help explain how or why Athanassiou died.
Those tests could take up to six weeks.
“While it will ultimately be for the Coroner to determine the cause of death, we are still treating Sofia’s death as ‘unexplained’ and a key focus of the police investigation is establishing how or why she died.”
Twelve investigators continued to work on the case.
Hopefully it was natural causes, not homicide. A tragedy for her family and friends either way, but worse if foul play is involved.
I caught a bus yesterday down to Allen Street for a yum char. I remarked to the person I was seated next to that it would be great if there was a plugin for smart phones that tells you when the next bus is for your stop, rather than have to go and look up on their website which stop you are at, and then the schedules.
He remarked that in fact Wellington Metlink website has on its mobile site such a service. It can detect your position, and show you nearby bus stops. Click on the one you want and it will tell you the next buses due there. It even highlights the ones with GPS on the bus, so the time shown for those buses is the actual time, not just the scheduled time it will get to you.
So a handy wee site for Wellington bus users. Very useful to be seated next to someone who as it turned out worked for the NZ Transport Agency
This is the first time that I’ve actually freaked out over an earthquake. Being on the 10th floor, I felt it badly. Made it down 10 flights of steps in around 40 seconds. The first shake had me at my door frame. Then there was a pause and I had a gut feeling it may shake again so headed for the stairs. Just as I got there, then an even bigger shake and decided it was safer to get out, than head back in.
Hope those near Opunake are fine. Thank goodness it was 250 km deep. A shallow quake could have been very nasty.
One upside. I discovered an earthquake is a very good cure for the flu. My aching muscles and lethargy disappeared instantly as I fled the building!
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.
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.
Frustrated Wellington rail commuters will benefit from a massive Government investment in public transport designed to reduce congestion and delays.
The announcement of nearly $900million for national public transport projects will buoy proponents of Wellington’s costly proposed light-rail system.
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown immediately called for urgent work to establish a central city light-rail or tram system.
The Government has in fact spent a huge amount on public transport, and rail. I’d be quite keen to see costings of a tram system in Wellington, but we should make decisions based on the benefits and costs.
I’m a very regular user of Wellington buses in the CBD and Thorndon areas, and generally they work very well. Would trams be more efficient?
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.
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.
A man has been taken to hospital with hypothermia after taking an early morning skinny dip in Wellington Harbour.
Acting police inspector Bruce Mackay said police were called to Oriental Bay, after receiving reports of a naked man swimming near Freyberg pool.
“Police were called to talk to the man, to see why he was naked and swimming in the harbour. He was taken to hospital in a hypothermic condition, but obviously we’re also concerned for his mental wellbeing.”
I’d say anyone who goes swimming in Wellington waters in April is definitionally insane
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 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.
Even though I go up Te Ahumairangi Hill (was Tinakori Hill) a lot, I was actually blissfully unaware that in 2010 an official lookout was opened. I tend to be around the Thorndon end, more than the Northland end.
This is the lookout itself. You can get to it from Orangi Kaupapa Road. Either a steep but short walk up from the road, or if really lazy you can drive up to it. Alternatively you can walk along the Ridgeline track and then head down to it. And you can climb up to it from Tinakori Road or Glenmore Street.
A nice view of the city from over the bush.
This is from Stellin Memorial Park, which is a bit below and to the south of the lookout. A nice grass area for a picnic, and a great view.
A close up of the city and harbour.
As I was in Northland, I drove over the back route to Brooklyn and checked out the war memorial which I had been meaning to look at for ages.
A couple of weekends ago did one of my favourite walks from the wind turbine to the Hawkins Hill radar station, along with a couple of friends, a baby and a dog! It was a brilliant day weather wise, which I have to say has been pretty good the last few weeks.
A friendly Emu following us along the fence line.
Posing for a photo with said baby and dog. Was very funny as at one point a person passing by commented what a fit family we were. This caused us much merriment as we were not sure what sort of family he thought we were with two women, one man and a baby. We concluded that he probably thought the two girls were lesbian lovers and I was their “donor”.
The views of the south coast and suburbs are just stunning.
The Wellington Castle, from above. Had a brief exchange of pleasantries with the owner as he was driving out his front gate. I didn’t tell him that I wanted to purchase the castle one day as a headquarters for the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy.
And the radar station itself. Next o the radar station are some foundations from a destroyed building. Anyone know what it used to be?