Daywalk: East Harbour Lakes Block

Lake Kopangapiripiri.

For some reason I never got around to posting about a walk around the East Harbour Lakes Block back in July 2009, so this report will be more photos and less report. The future mother in law was paying a visit, which was reason enough (as everyone involved agreed) for me to escape and do something else. Back in January 2009 I’d been for a walk out to one of the lakes shortly after hopping off a plane, and I thought I might go and do it properly.

Date: 27th July, 2009
Location: East Harbour Regional Park.
People: Just me.
Route: Walk along the coast to Pencarrow Head, walk clock-wise around both lakes, then back along the coast to the car-park.

This post is a trip report. You can find other trip reports about other places linked from the Trip Reports Page, or by browsing the Trip Reports Category.

Pencarrow Head, with the older
lighthouse in the top left.

The only down side of the East Harbour Lakes Block is that there’s a good 90 minutes of walking along a long, flat, coastal road on the eastern side of Wellington Harbour, almost to the Pencarrow Head Lighthouses. There have been two lighthouses since 1906, when a second was built lower to the ground after it was noticed that the original 1858 lighthouse would sometimes be obscured by fog. Due to the long hard road, it’s probably nicer in some ways on a mountain bike than walking, or the getting there at least. Once actually to the lighthouse, the ground gets softer and the terrain more diverse, and the walking’s fascinating. Many people stop at the lighthouses, however, and make it a walk to the lighthouses and back. If you’re up early, though, there’s a wonderful walk around the Parangarahu Lakes Area of East Harbour Regional Park.

Wetlands at the northern end
of Lake Kopangapiripiri.

Lake Kopangapiripiri on the western side, and Lake Kohangatera on the eastern side, are both low to sea level but lakes in their own right. They’re the main features of one of the few remaining wetlands left in New Zealand that’s still quite accessible. There’s a lot of bird and insect life evident all around.

Looking up Gollans Stream, the wetland
that flows into the top of Lake Kohangatera.

The area’s well tracked, and in some places this is necessary due to the swampy regions where it’s necessary to cross. For most of the time I was thinking it’d been pointless to’ve had gaiters, but I finally appreciated them for short stints on the eastern side of lake Kohangatera, where it became fairly muddy in places. To get around both lakes at a casual to reasonable pace, it took me about 3.5 hours, though not including the 1.5 hour walk along the coast on either end.

The southern end of Lake Kopangapiripiri.
A south island alpine back-drop.
The lower lighthouse, built on the rocks in 1906 when the old lighthouse at a higher altitude was sometimes obscured by fog.
The Inter-Island Ferry passes in front of Barret Reef, exiting Wellington Harbour.

More photos are here.

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