I can’t think of many cities where you can go for a 20km hike through farmland and bush in such a central location. The Puke Ariki Traverse is a full day walk across the length of the 3,500 hectare Belmont Regional Park, between Petone and Manor Park train stations. It includes three summits over 400m above sea level, and stunning views in every direction for almost the entire way. Walking it was the perfect way to spend a glorious blue sky and no wind day in the capital.
I parked my car near Petone Station and caught a replacement bus service north to Manor Park Station. Annoyingly there was work on the train line which turned a 10 minute train ride into a near hour long two bus journey. From the station it’s a short walk to the Dry Creek entrance, which was full of bikes that day for the Big Bang Dirt Duathlon. This is a running / cycling / orienteering event series held during the winter, with the first two events held during the day, and the third at night.
I saw the participants, which included a surprising number of kids, coming down the hill as I walked up the steep but wide and easy track. The whole Puke Ariki Traverse can be cycled, so it’s easy walking (other than the endless hills), allowing the views to the enjoyed without watching your step too much.
As I climbed the expanse of the Hutt Valley was behind me, home to 150,000 people, about a third of Wellington’s population.
I was heading to the 442m high Boulder Hill, which made the perfect spot for an early lunch, soaking in views of the Hutt Valley to the east, Porirua and Mana Island to the north west, and snow capped mountains on the South Island to the south west.
The track then crosses into Belmont Farm which is filled with dozens of WW2 ammunition magazines scattered across the landscape, now used as farm buildings.
Porirua Harbour was wonderfully still and reflective.
The landscape is undulating and well suited to sheep.
The WW2 ammunition magazines made it interesting to wander through.
There is no shelter for much of the track so it is definitely one to walk on a calm day.
The descriptively named Round Knob is slightly off the track, but the 410m summit is marked by a trig.
The ill fated Transmission Gully motorway cuts through the northern part of Belmont Farm, and was still under construction when I walked the track in July 2020. Work started on the 27km motorway in 2014 and it was originally meant to have been finished by April 2020, but as of writing it was due to open in September 2021 after costing $400m (a third more) than the original estimate. This photo was taken near the 390m high Cannons Head.
The final significant hill to climb up was the 456m high Belmont Trig. From here it was almost all downhill, along well graded track mostly in the bush, much busier with people than the rest of the day had been.
A detour took in Korokoro Dam, which was built in 1903 to supply water to Petone. The first gravity fed concrete dam in New Zealand, it is no longer used but made for a quick photo stop.
I was starting to lose the light heading along by the pleasant Korokoro Stream, filled in places by trees felled by storms.
I finished up at the rather unappealing Cornish Street entrance, a rather industrial corner of Petone, to return to my car and drive 20 minutes home.