This is going to be a quick trip report because it was a fairly quick trip. The fact that the park was getting completely thrashed by a southerly helped to ensure this, I think. We didn’t really want to stop.
Date: 19th April, 2008
Location: Belmont Regional Park, Cornish Street to Dry Creek (Haywards Turnoff).
People: Sarah, Mari, Edwin, Nicole and me.
Intended route: Start at Cornish Street, walk up to Belmont Trig via Baked Beans Bend, continue around Cannons Head and Boulder Hill via the Puke Ariki Track, then exit via Dry Creek at the Haywards turnoff from State Highway 2.
I’d originally had 9 people interested in doing this walk, but as the weekend approached we eventually filtered down to 5, through a combination of flu, weekend work issues, and one person simply not showing up. It was a good trip, albeit a little windy.
We left Wellington on the 8.05am train, wanting to get an early start since nobody had done this particular walk before, the days are getting shorter in the winter, and the Wellington Regional Council flags this trip as about 7 to 8 hours of walking. The weather also didn’t look too hot (literally), with a Southerly coming in and intermittent bursts of rain.
After a short walk from Petone Railway Station, we entered Belmont Regional Park via Cornish Street at roughly 8.45am. It wasn’t freezing at this point, but the walk is also sheltered. It was also during this time that we saw the only three people we’d see for the entire day. All of them were joggers, and they were all in this sheltered zone, probably just jogging from one street in the Hutt Valley to another.
We found the main turnoff to the Trig (via Baked Beans Bend) at around 9.25am, and were at the trig itself a little over an hour later at 10.35am. We were a little exposed to the southerly on the way up, but it was bearable, especially with the tree cover.
Not wanting to spent very long on the exposed peak around Belmont Trig, we quickly went down the north side. One option if the weather had been really horrible had been to simply go back down from here in a short loop walk via the Korokoro Dam, but we decided to press on. After about 10 minutes of walking, however, when we reached the first main gate, Nicole decided she was finding things a bit cold, so she and Edwin resolved to return to the turnoff and get out while there was still a good opportunity.
Sarah, Mari and I continued, however. We quickly discovered that the peaks around Belmont Regional Park were getting absolutely clobbered in the southerly, and the wind was freezing. It was bearable with reasonable gear to stay covered, however,and I was only once nearly blown off my feet (and that was partly because my foot slipped). Nevertheless, we pretty much ended up hoofing it for the rest of the trip and just racing through, rather than spend too much time on the exposed hilltops.
The three of us were at Cannons Head at 11.35am, and we continued around to the shelter of one of the ammunition bunkers, during which time we were hailed on, just after midday to have a quick lunch and rest. We arrived at Boulder Hill by about 1.30pm, and at 2.20pm we caught our first nearby glimpse of State Highway 2 about 5 minutes walk away. At almost exactly the time that we walked out, I received a call from Edwin confirming that he and Nicole had also exited, so all was good.
In hindsight it does seem to make some logical sense that we didn’t see anyone else in the park on a day like today, but I’m really glad we went. As we were discussing for part of the trip, it really helps one to appreciate good weather.