Hill walk all about the view

Kapiti Observer - - WHAT’S ON - LUCY SWINNEN

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.

Need to know

The 9.45kmwalk takes 3 to 4 hours for the oneway trip, but­most fit peo­ple can com­plete it in about 2 hours.

If you drive you are en­cour­aged to park at Paikakariki Sta­tion. No dogs or cycling on the hill climb sec­tion. High­est point 200m


View of the Kapiti coast from the Paekakariki es­carp­ment walk.

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