Wellington from Mt Kaukau

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I’ve been on call at work in the past few days, which means I wasn’t supposed to wander too far from civilisation last weekend just in case the building burned down and somebody needed to trundle into town and validate the parking of the fire trucks, or something like that. Sunday was otherwise boring so I ended up going for a wander along the Skyline Walkway, which I figure should be okay because it’s relatively civilised and there are many exit points in case I needed to get back to a road or anything. Here are some photos (biased towards the Kaukau end of the walk), and here’s the map of the day:

[Download GPX] [LINZ Topographic Map in new window]

I put on my number three pair of boots, which tend to get used if I think I might need to walk on some road, and headed down the hill. Having left home at around 11.30am after hanging out the washing. This began with a walk down into Otari Wilton’s Bush, not far from where I currently live, then straight up the other side of the valley up to the ridge-line where the Skyline Walkway is situated.

There was quite a lot of wind, I think from a northerly, and until I reached it I was concerned it might be impossible to get past the dip in the ridge just after the Chartwell exit and within an hour of Mt Kaukau, which tends to be one of the most forceful wind channels of the entire ridge. On this day it turned out to be unfounded, however, and although rather strong there was nothing at all dangerous. I noticed my ears were getting a pounding, though, and after a short while remembered I had a balaclava stashed away inside my backpack. For the next half hour I may have looked unusual to the several people sitting in the sheltered areas as I walked past them wearing my short sleeve shirt, balaclava and sun-hat, but it worked a treat.

Wellington is littered with great visible green space all over for walking in without having to go too far, and I think the photo below, taken from just below Mt Kaukau on the western side, shows it off quite well.

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Within this frame, the line of hills down the right side is the front side of the Skyline Ridge, whereas the pokey ridge thing just to the upper left of the centre is the Tinakori Hill. (I live on the near side of it, and the CBD’s on the far side.) It’s bigger than I think it looks in this photo, and just on its own it’d be possible to wander around in the bush for the better part of a day. The hills at the back of the photo are Te Kopahou Reserve, lying behind the suburbs of Karori and Brooklyn, and also have lots of walking that leads to high points overlooking Cook Straight. If you click through to a larger version of the photo, there’s a small white dot on the centre of the ridge which is the Hawkins Hill Radar Dome. The barely visible green space at the back and far left of the photo is another part of the Town Belt, leading from Oriental Bay over Mt Victoria and back to the coast at Island Bay, basically the length of the Southern Walkway. It’s walkable in a few hours, but makes a nice full day walk at a slower pace.

And that’s only within the frame, not showing the wind farm walks around Makara further to the right, the hills towards Colonial Knob in the Porirua direction, the large Belmont Regional Park between Porirua and the Hutt Valley, the hills that run from Pencarrow Head over Eastbourne and between the Hutt Valley and Wainuiomata, the Rimutaka Range (a popular tramping haunt) that overlooks Wellington from the east, the Akatarawas that lie west of Upper Hutt, or (obviously) the Tararua Range to the north. There’s so much really nice space to walk in and it’s very accessible to a large number of people. Wellington’s great.

I’d earlier thought I’d go straight past Kaukau and hop directly down to Johnsonville to buy some lunch, but somehow at the time I decided to go a different way, down the Northern Walkway, which I hadn’t been down for a long time and for some reason assumed could be almost as direct. The northern walkway at the Mt Kaukau end is a very well graded walkway, and nice to walk along. I left it in favour of one of the side tracks before too long, though, as I really didn’t want to go back to Wellington through the suburbs, and it started heading that way fairly quickly. What eventuated was a confused sidle on tracks down the side of Mt Kaukau, then 3/4 of the way back to the top of Mt Kaukau, and eventually getting me to Truscott Avenue at about 2pm, which is the road I’d been quite keen to get out of earlier. Now I’m more educated for next time.

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