Distance & Time: 7km, 1.5 hours
Take: Water and sunscreen – not a lot of shade on this walk
Amenities on route: Shops when arriving in Johnsonville, but nothing on the walk.
Cost of the walk: One way train ticket, $5.
Mt Kaukau – the big mountain in Wellington with the giant transmitter on top. It’s the one place that you can see from pretty much anywhere in Wellington, and one of the places that makes most people say ‘oh Mt Kaukau, I keep meaning to walk to the top but I haven’t done it yet’ (seriously, say to five people you’ve walked Mt Kaukau and that response will be one of the five).
Living in the city and not having a car, this walk is one of the easiest to get to by public transport. A 15 minute train trip takes you to within 300 metres of the start of the walk, and you can either return down the way you came and train back to the city, or when you get to the top turn either left or right – but I’m getting ahead of myself!
Obviously starting on the flat your route to the top is going to be up. And it is. The thing to remember is to take opportunities for a quick break and turn around to take in the view. It makes it worthwhile, trust me! You’ll think to yourself that if the view is this good now, imagine how much better it’s going to be from the top. You won’t be disappointed.
The track is well formed and relatively well signposted (just keep heading up and you can’t go wrong). If you’re doing this walk on a sunny weekend morning like I was, you are going to pass by a lot of people – this is not a walk to do if you’re wanting to escape from people.
Amy’s Advice – Take the train to Simla Cresecent from central Wellington, and return to Wellington from Johnsonville train station. Much easier than worrying about driving/carparks etc!
It doesn’t take long to get to the top – even stopping for some water and view admiration breaks, you should be at the top in less than 45 minutes. And the view from the top is absolutely spectacular. Every direction you look, there is something stunning to see, whether it’s the Makara wind farms, the South Island, the Hutt Valley, across the harbour to Eastbourne, and up towards Porirua – it’s all there.
It’s the place I’d recommend going when you want to get an understanding of how Wellington fits together – where everything is in relation to each other. It can be hard to comprehend in our wee city sometimes just where everything sits, but the views from here will help it make sense.
It is pretty impossible to get a panorama shot here without having some random person in it though. I have been here once before when myself and my friend were the only ones at the summit – but that was on a day where there was a severe weather warning for Wellington but we ignored that and decided to walk anyway. It was fine!
Once at the summit, the decision needs to be made of where to go next – back down the hill, to the left which takes you along the Skyline Walkway to Karori, or to the right along Old Coach Roach which takes you to Johnsonville. I chose right.
There is not a lot of shade on this section of the walk, so make sure you are wearing loads of sunscreen, you’ll need it. There’s not a huge amount of interesting things to see on this part of the walk, although there are several entrances/exits, so make sure you have a fair idea of where you’re heading to otherwise you could spend some time wondering where to go.
There’s loads of seats and spots you could have a wee picnic, if you felt so inclined. Or had prepared enough in advance to actually bring a picnic!
There’s a wee spot when it can become a bit confusing about where to go – one way looks as though it heads into the suburbs, the other into a random looking paddock. Stay with the track that goes through the paddocks – it’s the way you want to go to stay on Old Coach Road. For this walk I didn’t do the entire Old Coach Road, but tapped out at Johnsonville. Next time!
The walk finishes out the back of Johnsonville, where you then have to walk along suburban roads to get to the train station. If you’re anything like me and like looking at people’s gardens and homes, this is a great perk of this walk!
This walk is good if you want to get some decent hill walk in, and I can see it being great if you live near the pathway as an exercise route. And I would strongly recommend taking fit visitors here for a scenic view of Wellington rather than Mt Victoria – I haven’t found a better view in Wellington yet. But that could change!
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