Whole Town Belt
29 March 2008
To tramp the entire Town Belt is to appreciate the New Zealand Company’s foresight, when, in 1840, it gifted the land to the citizens of the town. The original 625 ha area, now 425 ha, “… that the Company intends to be public property on the condition that no buildings be ever erected upon it”, is a priceless legacy of scenic, ecological, historical and recreational significance. We used minor tracks where possible, rather than the Southern, City to Sea, and Northern walkways, and some off-track routes.
From Oriental Pde, we climbed Lindum Tce, and a zigzag to The Crescent Play Area, for a misty view of the harbour, city and our destination - Queens Park, Thorndon. Several areas along Te Ranga a Hiwi ridge from Mt Victoria/Tangi te Keo (196 m) to Mt Albert (177 m) have been cleared of hazardous pines by Wellington City Council (WCC), and plantings of native trees and shrubs to replace them are thriving e.g. above Hay St. Decades more weeding remain – threats include climbing asparagus, old man’s beard, wandering willie, escallonia and banana passionfruit.
We stopped at the memorial to ‘Jonna Victoria Poulson and her bear-sweet dogs’, near Mt Alfred, the site of Te Akatarewa Pa, above Mt Victoria Tunnel. After scroggin at Truby King Park, with its brickwork, including the ‘Moongate’, we visited Truby and Isabella King’s tomb, then enjoyed feral apples in Melrose. Above Hornsey Rd, we used paths to Auckland Tce, for free fruit, then crossed Melrose Park to climb to a viewpoint towards Mt Victoria and the Tararua and Rimutaka ranges. The track east of the ridge, in regenerating coastal forest, featured akiraho and houhere/lacebark trees in beautifully scented bloom.
At Mt Albert, we turned west to cross both sides of Berhampore Golf Course, which is on Town Belt land, then walked north. We lunched near Farnham St Play Area, then followed the City to Sea Walkway past Macalister, Rugby League and Prince of Wales parks, crossing tributaries of Waitangi Stream. In Central Park, in the catchment of Moturua Stream, the walkway was being reinstated, after the felling of hazardous pines.
Our first off-track section, from Tanera Park, was an overgrown road into Epuni St gully, by a concrete stormwater structure. On the TL side, we sidled up among pines and a weedy slope to Mortimer Tce, between garages, near no. 61. Off Durham St, we followed a legal road, which looks private, leading to power pylons. We descended to have scroggin by a big manuka, and a selection of bedding and clothing, then a steep track through bush to the TR of a stream, and Aro St.
Opposite is a former quarry, and leading up it an old road zigzags through bush. We climbed past some unauthorised earthworks to pines on the spur below Hadfield Tce. Just beyond several mamaku, from an area smothered in montbretia, we used a possum control route into a gully above Adams Tce. Up the gully a short distance, we climbed on the TL, crossed a washout with dumped whiteware, etc, and sidled up to large macrocarpas. Beyond a lawn and a garage, we reached Kelburn Pde between nos. 107 and 117.
We walked paths to Central Tce and Upland Rd, then entered the Botanic Garden from North Tce. From Gorse Path we traversed Stable Gully, one of the garden’s five areas of native forest. Off Patanga Cres, we climbed to ‘Thorndon Green’, and followed the Northern Walkway to the area cleared of pines in April 2005. Here, we dropped to the track that parallels the walkway and passes a 1906-era, 40-m, quarry tunnel. This track was not affected by the storms in 2002 and 2004. WCC has placed marker posts at track junctions. Finally, we crossed Wadestown Rd, entered Queens Park, skirted the waterfall, and travelled through regenerating forest to Grant Rd, by no. 24 Newman Tce. Hughie began hosing down, so parkas on, we sped via Hobson Cres, Wellington Girls’ College, and the former harbour cliff behind Old St Pauls, to Lambton Quay, arriving 8.75 hours after starting.
We thank WCC for supplies of Southern Walkway and City to Sea Walkway brochures.