Panoramic views, beautiful parks and heritage landmarks can be found on this impressive walk in the capital city. By Ali Middleton
The Southern Walkway connects some of Wellington’s best-loved parks and suburbs between Oriental Bay to the north and Island Bay to the south. It forms the end (or beginning) of Te Araroa’s North Island section and can be walked in either direction. There are numerous connecting suburban streets and myriad sidetracks along the way. The walkway is described here from north to south.
The track is marked by pink-capped posts with directional arrows. Some parts are exposed to Wellington’s notorious winds.
It begins near the intersection of Oriental Parade and Carlton Gore Road and initially zigzags onto the slopes of Mt Victoria / Matairangi, with views across Oriental Bay and the city. After crossing Palliser Road, the walkway continues up the hill in the shade of exotic and native trees to an open area in Charles Plimmer Park. A recommended short diversion from here (via the signposted Lookout Walkway) leads to the summit of Mt Victoria (196m). From here, there are sweeping views of the city, harbour and Tinakori Hill, the Hutt Valley and eastern harbour bays, Matiu / Somes Island and the Miramar Peninsula. Mt Mathews, Wellington’s highest point, is to the east. Beyond are Baring and Pencarrow heads.
From the summit, continue south on the Lookout Walkway until it rejoins the Southern Walkway.
The track then follows Alexandra Road until it reaches an intersection with Crawford Road. Rejoin the walkway on the opposite side of the intersection, where it heads briefly through the bush and up a few steps before popping out on Paeroa Street.
At the top end of Coromandel Street, follow the paved zigzag path through a small plantation of pines. Then there’s a climb before emerging into Truby King Historic Park. Exit the park’s long driveway, then turn left onto Manchester Street and right onto Sutherland Crescent. At Melrose Park the track skirts around the north side of the playing field, which is also the boundary fence of Wellington Zoo. There is a water tap outside the changing rooms.
At the far side of the park, a new gravel track zigzags up and around the western side of Mt Albert then joins the old ridge track at the reservoir. A quick jaunt up to the trig from here rewards with more 360-degree views. On a clear day, Tapuae-o-Uenuku is a prominent feature on the southern horizon.
Head down the gravel path to Mt Albert Road, where the track continues on the footpath up to Buckley Road before beginning the final descent to the coast through Sinclair Park and Buckley Reserve. Cross the road at Houghton Bay to the seaward side, turn right and walk the final kilometre along the coastline of Taputeranga Marine Reserve to Island Bay.
Shorland Park marks the end of the walkway, and a stone memorial laid at the sea boundary marks the southern point of Te Araroa’s North Island section.