Miramar Peninsula

One of my favourite parts of Wellington, Miramar Peninsula was an island until a major earthquake about six hundred years ago raised the land and connected it to the mainland. This area is now home to Wellington Airport, gateway to New Zealand’s capital.

At the northern tip of the peninsula is the impressive Massey Memorial, honouring New Zealand’s Prime Minister from 1912 to 1925. It was originally a WW1 era fort, one of many on the peninsula, which was converted in 1930 to a crypt and memorial.

Across the road from the memorial is the distinctive Point Halswell Lighthouse.

Up the hillside behind the memorial are a number of bunkers / fortifications, which as with all I’ve found (over a dozen) in the Wellington region, are heavily tagged.

The views from there are also pretty good.

Nearby poorly marked tracks in the area go past more bunkers.

At the top of the high behind the Massey Memorial is Mt Crawford, the highest point on the peninsula at 163m above sea level. Unfortunately it is on private land, and there are no views from the gate.

The nearby Mt Crawford Prison opened in 1915, and the present facilitates date from 1927. It closed in 2012, and is currently decaying away with no purpose though there is talk of using the land for housing.

There are more dilapidated buildings on the coast below at Shelly Bay. This was used by the New Zealand Defence Force for 124 years till 2009. Ownership of the land passed to the local iwi who involved a developer to build houses on the site. Things have become contentious, complicated, and controversial…

My favourite part of the peninsula is an extended version of the Eastern Walkway, starting from Churchill Park. This is home to the Seatoun Wahine Memorial Garden, remembering the 1968 sinking of the Christchurch to Wellington ferry Wahine just off the coast of the peninsula, in which 53 people tragically died.

The track follows the cliffs around Breaker Bay, out to Ataturk Memorial and Moa Point and back.

The Ataturk Memorial was built in a spot reminiscent of the cliffs of Gallipoli, and is used for dawn services every ANZAC Day, on 25 April.

It’s a great spot for ferry watching.

The most impressive fortifications are at Fort Ballance, built in 1885 and used until the end of WW2. It’s a Category I Historic Place, as an early example of concrete structures. Despite this status the site is heavily tagged.

The nearby Scorching Bay is a good spot for swimming and is home to a great cafe.

Seatoun is the largest suburb on the peninsula. It’s wharf dates from 1901.

In the centre of Seatoun is the wonderful Roxy Cinema, which opened 2011. Originally it was the The Capitol Theatre, built in 1928. After 36 years it closed and was used as a shopping centre ‘Capitol Court’ for a number of years before falling into disuse prior to being saved.

Miramar is home to Weta Cave, the publicly accessible part of Weta Workshop, part of Sir Peter Jackson’s homegrown film empire. No photography is allowed on the tour itself but the shop is full of memorabilia from The Lord of the Rings and other films.

Author: jontycrane

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