Today's GPS data is here. We caught a 0707 train from Paraparaumu, setting off from the Porirua railway station at about 0750 for a long day's walk (for us). We planned to get to the Wellington railway station (not far off track) and ended up achieving that - around 33.5km. This was our longest day for quite some time and a real test as it included 1400m up and 1400m down (mainly Colonial Knob and Mt Kaukau) - so not flat by any means!! 10 hours walking from start to finish, including stops along the way.
Starting through the centre of town gave us the opportunity for a quick loo stop and also for me to get back into "trail mode" by finding a bakery and buying a large potato-top pie (even though I had earlier had a small breakfast!) - it was really delicious, and a good bit of fuel for a long day ahead.
Then it was off westward through town along the south side of the old Todd Motors factory (locals of a certain vintage will know it well!) before reaching Elsdon Camp and the start of the Colonial Knob Walkway. Not having done this walk before, we were pleasantly surprised how pretty the start of it was, walking up to the more open tops through some nice native bush. It was slightly reminiscent of the southern end of the Hakarimatas, although not as steep or as new (but lots of steps!). Being a Sunday, we came across quite a few local walkers and cyclists here, as well as later in the day right through to Wellington. You break out of the bush into more open farmland after about 1.5km and its about the same again to get to Colonial Knob itself. We didn't really strike much more native bush until hitting the Green Belt in Wellington city.
Although it was supposed to be sunny, it turned out to be a little overcast for much of the day. The tops along Colonial Knob are fairly exposed and we had a cool, fairly strong, NW wind blowing (luckily it wasn't southerly!!) which made sure we didn't overheat!! We stopped for a break behind the hut at Colonial Knob (468m) itself. I immediately put my possum/merino jumper and my balaclava on - which is almost unheard of for me!! I even left it on when we departed and had it on for some while. Belinda was rugged up as usual :-). It's just another reminder that even on a relatively fine spring day in NZ it can be quite challenging walking conditions - with rain thrown in the mix, it would have been very unpleasant. Flo - if you read this, we were thinking of your experience when you did the Mt Kauakau stretch - and our day was fine by comparison!!
From there it was another km or so downhill into Spicer Forest (pleasant walk through a pine plantation for a couple of kms) and then onto the start of Ohariu Valley Rd. 5km of walking down the road past lots of lifestyle blocks, and the entrance to Boomrock Lodge on Papanui Station, got us to the junction with Rifle Range Rd (which heads up to Mt Kaukau). Here we took the opportunity to have a (well-deserved!) cafe break at the riding school cafe. Although we had packed some lunch, we decided to order lunch here. The food was absolutely fantastic - recommended for anyone passing, although it is only open Sat and Sun for brunch (1000-1600) so those passing through on a weekday will have to miss out! After a 50 minute break here it was back on the road again.
Luckily we only had about 1.5km of road walking from the cafe before hitting Old Coach Rd, which is essentially a farm track. It was then about 4km on a good track (4WD track followed by easy walking track) up through farmland and scrub to the Mt Kaukau transmitter station. It was strange, at one point, to be walking up the farm track and suddenly come across a whole heap of houses close by - the back of Johnsonville. At the top of Mt Kaukau we got some good 360 degree views (panorama of part of that included below). Still pretty breezy and cool so we didn't hang around too long. We still had another 2km of exposed "tops" walking before dropping down Bell's Track into the back of Ngaio (into real Wellington suburbia!).
Then it was mainly down roads to near Crofton Downs, where we headed into Trelissick Park. This was yet another surprise in amongst the city! It was a lovely 1.5km walk with not a road in sight right through to Wadestown. Although our confidence got the better of us again and we made a small mistake that cost us maybe 400 metres of unnecessary walking (hopefully by Bluff we will have learned that lesson once and for all!!). We stopped for a drink at the Wisconsin burger outlet in Wadestown as we had done almost 28km by then! However, straight after that TA delivered a nasty uphill pinch up asphalt streets and steps which tested our tiring legs somewhat!! We had sort of hoped it might be mostly downhill from there - but, as always, thinking it doesn't necessarily make it happen, especially where TA is concerned!
After that it was into the green belt above Thorndon for a pleasant walk along the hill and eventually down onto Tinakori Rd and into the Botanic Gardens opposite the Chinese Embassy. With so many tracks in the gardens we again, believe it or not, got a little lost as to exactly which track to take - but we knew we were heading for the Rose Gardens and that, combined with the GPS, got us there no problem! Then down through the Bolton St Cemetery and across the motorway on a footbridge and onto Bowen St.
From there it was only a km or so down to the intersection of Bowen St and Lambton Quay, where we left the trail to take the short walk down to the rail station to catch the train home. Having spent a number of years commuting into Wgtn for work it was very familiar territory for me!!
Belinda and Anthony (aka Tony) Hadfield made a decision, in their late 50's, to do something a "bit different" and walk New Zealand's 3000km Te Araroa Trail over summer 2015/16 - although updates will now tell you that this plan will take longer now!!. As the old saying goes - "don't leave home 'til you've seen the country"!!