Pekapeka – Paekakariki
9 March 2008
Variety is the spice of life, and this trip had plenty of it. The blend of sand, surf, streams, suburbs, dunes, wetlands, an airport, and native vegetation and birds are prime attractions of the Kapiti Coast Walkway, proposed by Kapiti Environmental Action (KEA), in the early 1990s, and established by Kapiti Coast District Council.
We divided into foursomes to buy $20 Day Rover tickets for the train trip to and from Paraparaumu, where two taxis were waiting to take us to Pekapeka. Within moments of starting our 23-km, 7.5-hour trip, we began enjoying the wide, open spaces of Pekapeka Beach, with a splendid surf running, a steady nor-wester, poaka/pied stilts and blue-bottle jellyfish in the shallows and Kapiti Island as a backdrop.
We left the beach at Ngarara Stream, walked between streets along several pedestrian strips and a domain to reach Waimeha Lagoon, a wildlife refuge. From a ‘hide’, we watched ducks, geese, black swans and royal spoonbills, totally unaware of our presence. Later, we passed native planting done by the local Care Group, and used a boardwalk over a wetland where the group controls weeds.
At Waimanu Lagoon, we saw shags roosting on a tall macrocarpa, and noted that the interpretation panel lists the 58 species of birds recorded nearby. Along the TR side of Waikanae Estuary, we delighted in the almond-like perfume of tarakupenga/coastal tree daisy, and the tangled habit of maakaka/saltmarsh ribbonwood.
Across the bridge to Otaihanga Domain, we sought shade to have ‘lunch 1’, before pressing on to the vast Kotuku subdivision. Here, tall dunes have been bulldozed into dune hollows to flatten the landscape. It was here that we met a strongly territorial gentleman, while inadvertently trespassing. We continued south along canalised streams and mini-parks, to the aerodrome. Fortified by feral peaches, apples and blackberries, in the catchment of Wharemauku Stream, we had ‘lunch 2’ at Weka Park, Raumati, on a slope overlooking the sports ground.
From Raumati Rd, we travelled an undulating route along the walkway over dunelands east of the suburb, near the route of the proposed ‘Western Link Road’. The terrain, once used by a pony club, is a mixture of pasture, impressive manuka and kanuka forest and pines, with traces of middens. It was here that we reached our highest point above sea-level, a breath-taking 25 metres! As Barbara said, “I have never walked over so much flat land in NZ.” The walkway descends to Poplar Ave at the junction with Matai Rd, and there we left it. With permission from the farmer, obtained via Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) Ranger Nikki La Monica, we crossed the northern farming block of Queen Elizabeth Park for 25 minutes, to the north end of the park’s Inland Track. We sped south, past interesting patches of native forest, and revegetation areas on the banks of Whareroa Stream, to have scroggin at Whareroa Rd end. Here, in the shade of taupata trees, Michael excelled himself by serving us all with large chunks of gorgeous, juicy, pineapple. Such are the rigours of M-grade trips!
Onwards we went, along the southern section of the Inland Track, enjoying views of the coast, sea and DOC’s recent acquisition, the former beef and sheep unit of Whareroa Farm, east of Mackays Crossing. At Wainui Stream, we turned seawards to cross the bridge and walk down Paekakariki’s stunning beach, with foaming surf, and lifeguards training with their rescue craft. Finally, we walked over the Sand Track, a pedestrian access to Wellington Rd, and minutes later reached Paekakariki Station. Mary, who had fantasised about dairies along the way, and Peter, found solace in fish and chips, shared on the platform, as we awaited the train home. Train and taxi fares trip amounted to only $12 each – very good value! We thank GWRC for supplies of the Queen Elizabeth Park brochure.
- Party members
- Peter Barber, Michael Brown, Barbara Camfield, Bob Cyffers, Diane Head, David Holland, Chris Horne (leader/scribe), Mary Kane, Syd Moore, Liz Morrison, Pat Reesby and Michael Taylor