One of the most accessible parts of Te Araroa, the 3,000km trail stretching the length of New Zealand, the Paekakariki Escarpment Track is a particularly scenic 9.5km walk, easily accessible by train, only 35 mins from Wellington CBD.
I started at the Pukerua Bay station end, which gets most of the steepest parts, and steps, out of the way sooner, and offers the best views ahead of you toward Paekakariki. I hadn’t found anything before I did the walk recommending a direction but I’d strongly recommend this way, though if you’re driving you’ll need to start from the Paekakariki station end for parking.
After a short wander through streets you’re quickly on the track, which remains single file narrow almost the whole way. It runs alongside the railway line before soaring above it, high on the hillside for spectacular views, back to Pukerua Bay, out to Kapiti Island, and ahead to beaches of Paekakariki.
These views require some effort though, climbing innumerable steps, and crossing a couple of swing bridges. It took me two hours, but I did run much of the second half downhill to Paekakariki.
It’s a bit of a shock to finish the track alongside a state highway with cars rushing by. Paekakariki itself is worth a quick explore for the beach, heritage buildings, and small museum in the station itself.
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