Centennial Reserve – Seatoun zigzags E
28 February 2018
We travelled on the no. 24 Miramar Heights bus to the former Wellington Prison, Fine drizzle stopped as the cloud base lifted. Everyone received a copy of the street map showing the day’s route. We walked past the barbed-wire-topped western wall of the old prison, following a path once used by Corrections Department staff who lived in houses on Access Road, a cul-de-sac. The houses, now gone, are replaced by lawn bounded by Centennial Reserve’s 24.9 ha of native bush.
Our starting point was near Matai-moana¹/Mt Crawford (163 m). This is the highest summit on Pae-whenua¹, the ridge which runs south to Beacon Hill, Strathmore and beyond. Miramar Peninsula was an island called Motu-kairangi¹ before the massive Hao-Whenua earthquake c. 1450 AD raised the sea floor above sea level, later enabling the construction of Kilbirnie and Rongotai.
The track through the reserve to Nevay Rd crosses the small creek which flows down to the pre-1911 dam visited on 16.3.2014 (Tararua Annual 2013-14, pp 72, 73). We descended Nevay Rd, then walked north along Fortification Rd, seeing a kererū teetering on a telephone wire. We saw the bush bach of Burton Silver, creator of the famous Bogor cartoons, then discussed Nakora² Rd, in particular its Unformed Legal Road (ULR) section (see Tramper Feb. 2018, page 6). The road, concrete not asphalt, looks private, but the WCC street sign dispels that impression. The pedestrian advocacy group, Living Streets Aotearoa’s Wellington group, applied successfully to the NZ Walking Access Commission for grant money to fund WCC to place way-marker posts, repair some steps, and add others, then install signs at the top and bottom of the ULR to state that the route is a tramping-standard track, not built to ‘walkway’ standard, Council action is urgently needed to do this work and promote use of the track. Below a lawn area, we descended sturdy steps built many years ago by WCC, then reached the tramping-standard track in regenerating coastal forest. Moving gingerly in places, we soon reached the bottom of Pretoria Rd, walked 30 m to Karaka Bay Rd, then dropped onto ‘Pretoria Beach’ to enjoy ‘lunch 1’ at the sandy beach. (Nakora² is probably a mis-spelling of ‘Ngā koura’, the route having been used to catch koura/crayfish among the nearby reefs).
We walked up the pedestrian-only section of Pretoria Rd, steep-sided above and below, then the drivable section to its junction with Napier Rd. We avoided the latter by walking up the driveway serving nos. 19, 21, 23, 29 which appears to be in part on Road Reserve. Opposite no. 23 we joined the footpath, which is well above Napier Rd, descending to it near no. 7. Both ends of this path should be sign-posted by WCC to encourage public use. The same applies to the routes we used above Taipakupaku Rd. One starts beside a sign listing nos. 2, 4, 8 and 10, and leads to no. 14; the other leads from no. 16 to no. 22 . The Taipakupaku Rd zigzag to Marine Pde descends through native forest, then a spectacular cutting in weathered greywacke sandstone hewn during the Great Depression. En route to the foot of Awa Rd, we passed the home of two well-known film magnates. Contractors’ machinery was felling and mulching pines damaged during recent cyclonic storms. Ears plugged against the racket, we sped up Awa Rd to a path in bush to near Worser Bay School. Immediately south of the school and the adjacent house, we reclined on the grassy area, once part of the site of Te Whetu-kai-rangi Pā¹, to enjoy ‘lunch 2’, and the perfect view of the entrance to Te Whanga-nui-a-Tara¹/Wellington Harbour, embellished by a thin horizontal strip of cloud half way up the hills from Eastbourne to Te Rae-akiaki¹/Pencarrow Head.
We descended Kākāriki Rd zigzag to Marine Drive. The leader, too busy talking, failed to spot Beerehaven Steps, so instead we climbed Pinelands Ave zigzag, walked along Fettes Cres, passing the magnificent former ‘Star of the Sea’ convent chapel and Stella Maris Retreat. Down Tio Tio Rd, behind a substation, we looked down the steep, ULR section of Forres St to the former Scout Hall. Soon we were homeward-bound, satisfied by a day of exploration and inspiring views.
¹ The Great Harbour of Tara. G Leslie Adkin. 1959. Whitcombe and Tombs Ltd. ² The Streets of My City. F L Irvine-Smith. 1948. A H & A W Reed.
- Party members
- Diana Barnes, Margaret Emerson, Pip Hart-Smith, Chris Horne (leader/scribe), Alan Knowles,
Doreen Launder, Jean Morgan, Peter Nixon, Peter Reimann, Lyn Taylor, Tony Vial, Georgia Vaughan (convenor of the group ‘Wellington – the Walking Capital’), Chris Ward (Regional Field Officer, NZ Walking Access Commission).