A wonderful 2-3 hour return walk along Wellington’s south coast, the Red Rocks Reserve has spectacular scenery, interesting rock formations, and between May and October it’s likely you’ll see fur seals.
The reserve neighbours Te Kopahou Reserve, one of the largest areas of relative wilderness in Wellington, running from Brooklyn Hill down to the South Coast. It’s an impressive piece of coastal scenery, spoiled only by the often near constant 4WD vehicles on the track. It is best walked on Sundays, when they’re not allowed.
There are some interesting structures by the track, four baches (New Zealand holiday homes) kept in their original form for nearly a hundred years. These are registered by the New Zealand Historic Place Trust as historic areas.
The Red Rocks are the remains of 200 million year old lava, their colour coming from small amounts of iron oxides. After public concerns about quarrying in the area they were protected in 1972.
After crossing a small stream the walk continues onto the fur seal colony at Sinclair Head. During the winter it is home to young males who were unsuccessful mating at South Island colonies. They’re less aggressive without female and young seals, but still take care and keep your distance. You may need to look carefully for them, they blend in well with the rock. I usually smell them before I see them!
There is also a fair amount of bird life, including this herons which looked a bit out of place.
The South Coast is a good place to watch the Interislander and BlueBridge ferries travel between Wellington and Picton, connecting the North Island and South Island.
The seas can often be pretty rough here, with large swells and strong winds making for a bracing but memorable experience.
On one visit the froth from the swell was incredible, I’d never seen anything like it.