This walk, close to Wellington, offers spectacular views and can be completed within two hours. By Darryl Ward
The Mataihuka Walkway is part of the Raumati Escarpment Reserve, which the Kāpiti Coast District Council acquired as part of the consent process for a nearby property development. The reserve contains a significant remnant of coastal forest, as well as grassland and scrub, and was the site of a pā in the 1850s. It towers over former wetlands and coastal sand dunes that once contained navigable inland waterways; it is recorded that waka could once be paddled between Raumati and Paekakariki.
The first section of the track zig-zags through regenerating native bush up to the edge of the escarpment, emerging onto a small clearing where a sidetrack leads, on a one minute detour, to the June Rowland Lookout, a small knoll, which offers the first of many inspiring views. June Rowland was a Kāpiti tramping and environmental legend who co-founded the Kāpiti Environmental Action Group (KEA) whose aim was to help protect, restore, and preserve natural places in Kāpiti.
The track then weaves through patchy, mixed vegetation, before a short steep climb through grassland leads to the Bill Moxon Cairn, which was erected in memory of Forest and Bird enthusiast Bill Moxon. Like June Rowland, Bill was a co-founder of KEA.
Many walkers turn back at the Bill Moxon Cairn after admiring the panoramic views of Mt Wainui, Paekakariki Hill and Escarpment, Pukerua Bay, the Kaikoura Ranges, the Marlborough Sounds, Queen Elizabeth Park, Kāpiti Island, and (on a good day) Mt Ruapehu.
Past the cairn, the route undulates over and around the ridgeline knolls, past a pine plantation and more farmland, all the while offering ever-changing views of the Kāpiti Coast.
A sign is eventually reached advising the end of the Mataihuka Walkway and that you must now turn back. However, the best is yet to come, because the most incredible views are on the return journey.