Te Araroa Trail: The Paekakariki Es­carp­ment Track

Walking New Zealand - - Contents - By Vicky Ross

Ihad read about the open­ing of the lat­est sec­tion of the Te Araroa Trail on the Kapiti Coast.The Paekakariki Es­carp­ment Track. It sounded in­ter­est­ing and I was fa­mil­iar with the area, so I added it to my list of things to do dur­ing a week’s hol­i­day in Plim­mer­ton, fur­ther down the Coast.

On the drive to Plim­mer­ton I looked up at the steep-sided tawny hills ris­ing above SH1 and the rail­way line. It was a sti­fling hot day with the mer­cury ris­ing to 30 de­grees. The heat seemed to hit the hill­sides and bounce back like a fan oven. Why would any­one want to walk along those bak­ing ex­posed hills? Lovely views,but ........

How­ever, my opin­ion changed af­ter read­ing a brochure at the i-site at Para­pa­raumu. Yes - do it! Welling­ton’s pub­lic trans­port is the envy of Auck­lan­ders and none more so than the elec­tric units serv­ing the Kapiti Coast as far as Waikanae.

I took the train to Paekakariki one sparkling clear morn­ing bran­dish­ing my Gold Card. No in­con­ve­nient HOP card re­quired. The 1km walk to the start of the track led me through the quaint lit­tle latte vil­lage and along a quiet res­i­den­tial street ad­ja­cent to the in­ter­est­ing un­tamed coast.

The nar­row 10km track grad­u­ally gained height to a max­i­mum 200m above sea level. Some peo­ple were ob­vi­ously us­ing it as a train­ing run - no doubt lo­cals who were im­mune to the stun­ning scenery be­low and be­yond. Far be­low was the rail­way line snaking its way along the con­tours, with the par­al­lel road fol­low­ing the same.

The con­stant traf­fic moved north and south in silent mo­men­tum. The rocky shore­line cre­ated an­other bound­ary be­fore look­ing out across to lofty Kapiti Is­land dom­i­nat­ing the hori­zon. Mag­nif­i­cent. Es­pe­cially on a sunny calm morn­ing

With such a per­spec­tive I could un­der­stand though, why the brochure

warns peo­ple with a fear of heights to avoid the track. Also it is un­suit­able for young chil­dren. In parts the ter­rain is rocky, steep and nar­row with no handrails. How­ever there are seats at var­i­ous scenic spots along the way ( it’s all scenic) and a shel­tered lunch area in one of the forested gul­lies.

In­for­ma­tion boards tell of the his­tory of this coast and its devel­op­ment and im­por­tance in pre and post Euro­pean set­tle­ment.

On the south­ern half there are two im­pres­sive swing bridges span­ning deep val­leys, both pro­vid­ing more photo op­por­tu­ni­ties. The track grad­u­ally de­scends to Pukerua Bay where a 2km walk takes you to the rail­way sta­tion.

Of course the track can be done in re­verse - ei­ther way, it is prefer­able to go in the same wind di­rec­tion if the weather is show­ing its true Welling­ton colours.

I’m so glad I did it! A favourite walka­c­ces­si­ble, chal­leng­ing, spec­tac­u­lar, scenic and eas­ily fit­ted into a hol­i­day pro­gramme.

Well done Te Araroa.

12

Op­po­site page above: Look­ing down on SH 1 and the Main Trunk Rail­way line. Above: The beach set­tle­ment of Pukerua Bay in the back­ground.

Be­low left: One of the sus­pen­sion bridges. Be­low right: Kapiti Is­land in the dis­tance.

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