Northern Walkway 2

AKA Climbing Mt Kaukau (That Which Gifts Us With The Idiot Box).

Back in March, I made my way one sunny afternoon along part of Wellington’s Northern Walkway, before abandoning climbing to the tv transmitter at the top of Mt Kaukau in favour of ice-cream and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Who wouldn’t do the same, I ask you? Today, on the one sunny day we’ve had after what feels like a month of endless bloody rain, I did the rest. Who knows when the opportunity will arise again… it’ll probably start raining again tomorrow.

I started where I left off walking from Porirua to Johnsonville, at the end of Old Coach Road. From there it was an easy walk up along the hilltops to Mt Kaukau. Despite the sun, it was windy and muddy but not hair-raising – which is good as my hair needs no help in that respect. There were a few people out walking their dogs, and one mad couple out running theirs, poor creatures. (Running is even less fun than going uphill, I can never understand why people do it. Are they masochists?) There were stunning views at the top, though – down one side was the city, and down the other a windmill-strewn vista looking out over Cook Strait to the South Island.

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From here, I left the NW to trot along the Skyline Track, wandering along the ridges, as while Wellington’s Te Araroa section goes mostly along the NW, it diverges in places and this is one of them. I was glad to spend some extra time up there as I was thoroughly enjoying myself. Most of that enjoyment, it must be said, was due to the kn0wledge that I was walking in the easy direction and it was all down hill from here, down Bell’s track and through the suburb of Ngaio to the local railway station, where I stopped last time I was on the NW. While it’s true that walking up hill and walking down hill both have their own special horrors, down is better than up any day in my book, and looking up at the tower from halfway down Bell’s track, I was smugly glad that I didn’t have to slog all the way up to it.

Northern Walkway 1

The Te Araroa Route between Johnsonville and the city centre is, for all intents and purposes, the Northern Walkway of Wellington City. Yes, it detours a little bit here and there, but it always goes back to the path, so that’s what I’m calling it. It seems simpler that way.

Anyway, I stumbled out from beneath the duvet at a very, embarrassingly late time today, after a late night marathon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (I’ve a friend who’d never seen it before, can you believe it?). So late in fact that I didn’t get the whole walk done – not only was I late starting, but it was nearly all uphill and I am very slow going uphill – so I’ll finish off the NW when Wellington looks less like the gale-force nightmare it’s about to be tomorrow.

I took a trip up to the top of the cable car, where one of the start/end points of Te Araroa is. I was a little surprised to see that there’s more km to walk in the North Island than the South – I would have thought it was the other way around.

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I wandered down from here through the botanic gardens and into Thorndon, before hauling myself up Tinakori hill. It took a long, long time – I had to stop every few minutes. I must be more unfit than I thought, but consoled myself with the thought that after this, would be a teeny-tiny little bit less unfit. Also relieved my feelings by swearing at the hill for being so high. Of course it didn’t do a blind bit of good, but once I got to the ridge track along the top, the relatively flat track through the bush was lovely.

After wandering through Wadestown, I undid all the hard work I’d done on Tinakori by following the track down to the very bottom of Trelissick park, to the stream at the bottom of the Ngaio Gorge. This was a particularly pretty park – it acts as a wildlife corridor between the green belt and the sanctuary at Karori. Lots of people were out walking their dogs – I met the most cowardly dog on the planet there, a big black thing called Jess. It had to be dragged past me on the track by its owner – stared at me like it thought I would gut it. Was a little miffed, as animals generally like me, but was saved from thinking I’d suddenly turned into something demonic that scared furry critters by the simple fact that I met three more dogs over the next 15 minutes, and all were happy to see me. Scared one of the owners, though (by accident! was not my fault…).

I also saw a totally fearless tui, who sat a few metres in front of me and sang its little heart out – I stayed watching it for several minutes, as did some other people, and it was serenely unbothered.

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By this time, I was over walking for the day, and when I reached Ngaio station, and looked up to see Mt Kaukau squatting ahead like a great big lump, I decided that I was a bigger lump for not wanting to climb it and went home for the day. What can I say – there was more Buffy to watch.