Belmont park – the hidden
Reporter Karoline Tuckey takes a walk in the park and discovers the best views in Wellington.
Sometimes the best kept secrets are those that are out in the open.
I’ve lived most of my life in the Wellington region, but have barely set foot in Belmont Regional Park until recently.
My lack of interest stemmed mostly from its steep legend on maps and talk of hardman adventure sports like long distance hill running and mountain biking.
However, after venturing forth I’m surprised by the hilly park’s accessibility and amazed by the views I’ve missed out on till now.
From the carpark in Hill Rd on the Hutt side only 20 minutes’ walk takes us on to the hilltops. From there you can see scraps of Lower Hutt suburbs, the Rimutakas behind Wainuiomata, Kapiti Island, Pauatahanui inlet, Porirua Harbour, Mana Island and Titahi Bay, the Aotea subdivision and Lambton Harbour in Wellington, all within 10 minutes walk along the track.
The views are breathtaking and standing on the hilltops looking almost to the ends of the region in each direction is a radically different perspective of landmarks I know well.
We pass very few people and barren windswept farmland sur- rounds us. It feels like the hidden heart of the region.
To get there we started at the Hill St car park in the Lower Hutt suburb of Belmont, which gives a head start about two thirds of the way up from the valley floor.
The rutted farm road we follow climbs about 100 metres over about 2.5 kilometres to a mowed airstrip in the hills used by top dressers. It takes us 30 minutes, with pauses to take photos. It’s not hard, but it is work. One of my walking partners remarks that it’s a pity the views aren’t accessible to all by car, but I think that the remoteness and small test to get there increases its value.
In the foreground on the Porirua side is Transmission Gully. If or when it’s built, the park itself will be cut into two lengthwise by the construction.
From the top: The view over Porirua from the airstrip in Belmont Regional Park.
Gimme shelter: Farm animals now use decommissioned World War II ammunition stores for shelter on farmland.