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Puke Ariki, Belmont Regional Park

Image of the May 2019 Wilderness Magazine Cover Read more articles from the
May 2019 Issue

Historical heights in Wellington

Belmont Regional Park stretches along the hills that form the western side of the Hutt Valley. An extensive network of tracks travels through the bush and across farmed open spaces. The Puke Ariki route links a number of these tracks into a full-day traverse of the park’s length.

My day started at the Petone Railway Station, where I parked my car and caught the train to Manor Park, near where SH2 and 58 meet. From there, it’s a 10-minute walk to Dry Creek, a delightful picnic area and probably Wellington’s best freedom camping spot. The track starts sharply, climbing through the bush before easing off a bit and breaking out onto paddocks, with increasingly expansive views of the Hutt Valley.

After a little more than an hour, I was atop Boulder Hill (442m), with 360- degree views encompassing the Kapiti Coast and Porirua and Wellington harbours. The Tararuas this day were, as often, clagged in, with only Kapakapanui, an outlier behind Waikanae, in the clear.

From Boulder Hill, the route drops into a gully to the west and then climbs to where a dozen or more Second World War ammunition bunkers are scattered around the hillside. I imagine the location and dispersal was so that if one exploded there was nothing nearby that could go up with it, but the ridgetop location seemed to me to be vulnerable to aerial attack. Today, the bunkers provide shelter for stock.

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Ammunition bunker, now a hideaway for stock

The track meanders amongst the bunkers and farm buildings and then joins Belmont Road, which is a farm track at this point and not open to vehicles. The section is called the Dress Circle and heads up Round Knob to Cannons Head. The trail meanders and isn’t well marked, but keeping Korokoro Stream, which drains to the Hutt Valley, on the left and Cannons Creek, which drains to Porirua, on the right, should have you headed in the right direction.

Heading south towards Belmont Trig, I stopped for a break in the lee of the ridge for lunch. It had taken four hours to reach this point and, feeling refreshed, it took another 20 minutes to reach the trig. This is an outstanding viewpoint and can be approached in several different ways, most of them much shorter than the way I’d come.

The trig is at 456m and the route from here would go all the way to sea level. I joined Ridge Track, dropping to the junction with Korokoro Stream Track. This section isn’t farmed, making a pleasant change to the tops travel, and the track is a well-benched gravel trail.

When almost all the height is lost, a junction marks access to the historic dam that was an early water supply for Petone. It’s an attractive place.

From here, the track is deep in a gorge and eventually flattens out and emerges at Petone where it’s a 15-minute stroll through the industrial area to the railway station.

Distance
20.9km
Total Ascent
1325m
Grade
Moderate
Time
6-8hr
Access
Starts at Dry Creek camping ground, near Haywards interchange, SH2
Map
BP32, BQ32

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Puke Ariki (gpx, 18 KB)

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