Another of the things I found myself doing during the recent visit, besides this Easter tramping trip, was to check out the new Paekakariki Escarpment Track, one of the contributing sections of the Te Araroa Trail. When completed, this route will provide a dedicated walking corridor between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay, alongside the coast north of Wellington. It’ll make the most of both iconic coastal scenery and iconic coastal exposure to the elements, and it’s completely accessible at both ends by Wellington’s metropolitan commuter train network.
I’d not even considered visiting this track until I noticed in the DomPost that the access was about to be partially opened, although its pending construction has been in the news since at least mid-2011. My only available day was Saturday 23rd March, so I bought myself a Day Rover ticket, hopped on a train to Paekakariki, and went off to hunt for it. As an aside, the Kapiti and Johnsonville metro lines in Wellington are both very interesting tourist lines when you’re not a daily commuter.
As is typical for me when I do things on a whim, I messed this up. It was a few days before the Te Araroa Trust had posted this on their website, which would have been useful information to have had in advance. In my haste I’d assumed I knew where I was going without making the effort to check. I mean, I’ve been to Paekakariki heaps of times, and I imagined that the obvious starting point for such a track would be near the intersection of SH1 and the Old Paekakariki Road. There was nothing obvious there, however, and I spent an hour walking around Paekakariki searching for a vantage point on the hill across the road, thinking it must somehow begin from further north. Failing to find it, I then spent 40 minutes walking up the Paekakariki Hill Road before I finally decided I was going the wrong way.