Escarpment walk is all about the view
The Paekakariki Escarpment walk up in the hills along the Kapiti Coast was crowded with excited walkers when it first opened and continues to be popular on sunny days.
The $1.4 million track was the most expensive section of the national Te Araroa Trail and opened in April.
While, visitor numbers have now spread out you will still run into a few people and may have to contend with local sheep who are right at home on the sharp escarpment overlooking Kapiti Island and the beautiful Western coastline. This walk is all about the view. It is just shy of 10km from Paekakariki Station, where you start the walk, to Pukerua Bay Station, and there are iron kilometre markers along the way.
The native bush that once grew across these hills has long since been cleared and for most of the walk you are surrounded by grass and paddocks.
Looking out on any day you can see Kapiti Island and on most days get a good view of the South Island as well.
One unexpected highlight of the walk is marvelling at the industrious Kiwi farmers who have fenced the sharp slopes on the coast.
You can also appreciate the engineering effort to create the many tunnels dug into the cliff below.
If you are brave enough to look straight down, directly below cars and trains whiz past, but you hardly notice with ocean stretching out in front of you.
‘‘It’s wonderful,’’ Tararua Tramping Club’s Cathy Wylie said.
Some people are hesitant to take on the walk because of all the cars below, she said.
Considering it is quite sharply built into the hillside, there are not too many flat picnic spots along the walk, but a couple of seats have been installed at the highest point.
For good reason the Paekakariki escarpment walk is also known as the Stairway to Heaven, the track includes 500 well formed steps.
Despite the location the walk is not too challenging, it does come with a warning for people with vertigo to avoid the walk.
Wylie advises people to ‘‘have fun’’ with the walk and combine it with an exploration of Pukerua Bay at the other end.