Saturday, 26 December 2015

Climb and climb again - Wellington Southern Walkway

It was a beautiful day-after-boxing-day today. Sun shining, 24 degrees and light breeze. We have been talking about the 11km Southern Walkway for a while now, not sure we knew what to expect so here is our review. 

Wellington has a fabulous town belt system. There are walking / mountain biking tracks throughout so we are quite lucky to have that kind of access. The Southern Walkway goes from Oriental Parade, around Mt Victoria and follows the ridge line from there all the way to Island Bay. 
I would describe it as steep/steep, followed by Wow view, discovery of a new park we didn't know existed, followed by more steep/steep - as a continuous loop. There are wee down bits too but much of this track is up! Not much is flat. 

The town belt isn't spectacular. The track starting at the Mt Vic end weaves through a pine forest, so heavy with roots to navigate and feels like it's primarily a mountain biking track. You certainly can see great tree stumps and ledges Hobbits hid under during the first LOTR as you wander through these paths. 
 A few years ago WCC consulted on the amount of "play spaces" and "dog exercise" spaces in the city. I submitted we don't have enough based on my Northern Suburbs perspective- well today we discovered there is masses of land dedicated to those two functions. We found 2 cricket pitches we have never been to - and we thought we had seen every one in the city in 5+ years of school cricket. So if you are ever in need of a playground that is underused, look to the southern walkway map. 

Back to the track. Beyond Mt Vic it is lined with gorse, broom and thistles. We walked through groves of both pine and eucalyptus at times and often had to venture onto the road for some reasonably long stints. There were many Wow views as I said and interesting finds - like this gun emplacement, or the monkeys as we circumnavigated the zoo. 
Wellington's belt of pohutakawa are emerging into flower so we did enjoy some of the spectacular shows of red occasionally. 

Towards the end of the track we climbed to the peak of Mt Albert closely followed by another climb to a trig then onto the road in Houghton Bay before descending to the coast, which we followed around to Island Bay finishing where the #1 bus starts. 
Highlights - finds like the gun emplacement, many playing fields / dog parks / play grounds. We got a bit lost out the back of Newtown and enjoyed discovery of a new part of town. 
We also enjoyed a yummy lunch at Mojo Wellington Zoo along the way. 
Low points - WCC you need to sort your signage out! Thank goodness for Google maps! It was not often like above. The track takes you onto the road a lot, which is disappointing, and the constant gorse / broom / thistles are really uninspiring. 

Key info. 11km, took us 3 hours 40. 82 flights of elevation according to Apple (Mt KauKau is 56). Look at the elevations on this site to see the frequent steep/steep elements. http://wellington.govt.nz/~/media/maps/files/southern.pdf

We will definitely walk in the town belt again but perhaps not this route. 




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