This is one of the views available from the top of Mount Kaukau. It’s not my favourite view from here, but it’s still quite good.
Panoramically, Newlands is mid-way to the foreground on the left. Lower Hutt is behind it, and identifiable here because it’s on fire. Panning across the harbour is Matiu Somes Island, one of our predator free scientific and historic reserves. The Kaukau transmitter, without which many of us could not experience the convenience of 24-hour shopping broadcasts directly into our homes, hovers above suburbs like Ngaio and Khandallah. Neither is visible here.
Further along is Wellington’s CBD. The Tinakori Hill is in the foreground, with part of the town belt along the top and suburbs like Wadestown and Wilton on this side of it. Wadestown, as I understand things, is one of many suburbs which had its street grid drawn up on a flat piece of paper in merry old England of the 1800s. This shows in how amusing it can be to walk through. Beyond the end of this photo would be Karori, including deepest darkest Karori, but I didn’t swing the camera that far.
Sometimes the scene from the top of Mount Kaukau, this time seen from the other side, will look similar to this. From not far away there will be a faint outline of the transmitter, if even that, surrounded by its ever-diminishing orchestra of pine trees which become fewer and more bent-over after every storm. It’s also not my favourite view from here, but it’s still quite good.
Fewer people visit the top at these times, but even last Saturday with rain equal to some of the heaviest I’ve experienced anywhere, I met a sizeable handful of drowning people. They might have been up for a run, being walked by their dogs, or simply out walking themselves. After a few occasions, you start to pick out familiar faces.
Mount Kaukau is also one of the places where the MetService measures wind speed. The peak is exposed to the edge of all the air being channeled through the Cook Straight. From time to time we’ll see exclamations like these.
The Met Service measures the wind from right at the very top of the transmitter, and its facilities were originally installed to provide wind information for aircraft at an elevation of 2000 feet. This doesn’t seem to prevent the measurements sometimes being used to label Wellington in popular media as a very windy place, even if nobody actually lives on the top floor of the Mount Kaukau transmitter.