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Wellington from on high

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July 2021 Issue

The Puke Ariki Track is an end-to-end walk or ride of Wellington’s vast Belmont Regional Park and provides views in all directions as well as the chance to visit historic Second World War sites.

Wellington’s Belmont Regional Park is a vast area roaming from Petone to near Heretaunga with many great riding and walking opportunities. On a clear day, it has wrap-around views of the whole Wellington region plus much of the South Island’s top end. 

A large part of the park is still a working farm with history in the form of Second World War ammunition stores to be discovered. When the weather changes and the wind picks up, there are plenty of escape routes back into the sheltered suburbs.

The Puke Ariki Traverse begins with a steep climb on Buchanans Road, a rough and ready 4WD track. This slices through a corridor of regenerating native bush and forestry regrowth to the very top of Boulder Hill. At 442m,  it provided a welcome spot to check out the giant boulders, the view and re-hydrate before entering the undulating farm park. A large section of scrub and wilding pine has been cleared from the ridges and gullies with natives replanted.

Crossing the Hutt River towards the end of the ride. Photo: Dave Mitchell

On the Boulder Hill farm track, we headed over grassy and exposed slopes. The route drops enthusiastically into a series of dry stream gullies only to climb back out for the next set. Sheep and cattle randomly dot the landscape with hardly a tree or shrub to impede Wellington’s windy reputation. We booked the right weather: sunny and a light breeze to keep us cool, which exposed outstanding views of Wellington Harbour, the city and suburbs. It’s an interesting scene and far more three dimensional than looking across our home town of Christchurch from the Port Hills.

A final long climb took us to the Belmont Farm Hub and on the way we marvelled at the plethora of striking monolithic Second World War magazines. Their weathered concrete construction now open to the elements and making ideal farm storage and stock shelters. The bullets, bombs and incendiaries just a fleeting memory.

The structures form a village of random dwellings marching up the ridges and gullies. We stopped to inspect one. Its sun-drenched concrete wall made a good backrest at lunchtime.

From the Farm Hub, the track climbs to the Airstrip and Gas Station, a hydrocarbons supply pipeline from the Hutt Valley to Porirua, at the very top of the farm. We rode over Gasoline Ridge to Round Knob at 410m. This is the closest point to the Transmission Gully mega motorway. The track is part of the Dress Circle trail that curves around to Cannons Head and then on to Belmont Trig at 456m, the highest point of the ride. It’s a great bit of trail, almost single track, that traverses gradually along the 400m contour.

Crossing a bridge over Korokoro Stream. Photo: Dave Mitchell

From the trig, an enjoyable descent leads to the famous Baked Beans Bend and onto Korokoro Forks through a sea of regenerating natives and bird song.

From the forks, we continued downstream on the smooth Korokoro Stream Track to the tiny Korokoro weir and old water supply pipeline. Tall toi toi and flowering hebes marked the route. More easy flowing trail led us into industrial suburbia and onto Pito-One Road at the very bottom of the hill.

With town map in hand, we went right on Pito-One Road to cross SH2 on the pedestrian rail overpass. We then cycled east and north on a number of streets to cross the Hutt River on another pedestrian overpass. Finally, we rode the Hutt River Trail nearly all the way back to the start point at Dry Creek. It’s a nice peddle offering a good look around the back-blocks of Lower Hutt.

It felt like a big day out, but with so much to see it may have just been vista overload.

Total Ascent
Moderate / Difficult
From SH2 take the Dry Creek exit just before the SH58 exit. Alternatively, take the train to Manor Park Station

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