Hiking the stairway to heaven
One of the things I love about Wellington is that its geography of bush-clad valleys and hills mean a running or walking trail is just around the corner. The opening of the Paekakariki escarpment trail last year excited a lot of people, including me, because its altitude (about 220 metres) meant you could have stunning views of the oceans and the Kapiti harbour.
I chose a sunny and windless day to walk the trail last summer (windy Wellington, your windless days are few and far between), taking with me my camera but leaving behind my fear of heights. From Pukerua Bay it took me about three hours to walk the 10km track to Paekakariki (at the highest peak I spent 30 minutes enjoying the scenery). Although the track is mostly exposed and steps could be quite steep and challenging in places, the views are amazing, hence the track’s nickname, ‘stairway to heaven’.
The escarpment trail is an amazing addition to Te Araroa, which is New Zealand’s 3,000km tramping route from Cape Reinga in the north to Bluff in the south. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to add a little excitement to their walk. A few tips: 1) the trail starts from sea level to a height of 220 metres, and most parts are exposed and narrow, so be warned, there’s a bit of fear factor here; 2) take your jacket with you, you never know when the wind will get strong; 3) unless you want to guard your young children all the time instead of enjoying the views, I’d suggest not taking them; 4) bring water and snacks – at the peak midway through the trail there are a few benches you could sit on and enjoy the views; 5) if you have knee issues, take a walking stick. For more info about the trail, see the links at the bottom of this page.
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