Johnsonville to Red Rocks
7th March 2020
Since moving to Wellington from New Plymouth in 1981, walking the length of the Skyline Ridge has been a goal of mine. I have climbed Mt Kaukau many times and walked parts of the Skyline Ridge with the TTC, but not completed the walk from Johnsonville to Makara Road at the Karori end. Similarly, Dianne Lee had completed part but not all of the Skyline Ridge walk. In June 2018, after we successfully completed the Skyline Ridge walk, Dianne posed a challenge: Was it possible for us to walk from Johnsonville to Red Rocks in a day? Doing this would mean finding a link from Karori to the Wind Turbine.
Our initial attempt to connect the two ridge tracks was to walk from the Skyline at the Parkvale Road exit, through Karori village, up Campbell Street to the track outside the Zealandia Sanctuary fence, and on to Hawkins Hill Road. We were not sure if this was the most effective way of connecting the two tracks, but, at least we had a workable option. We did see a stoat outside the Sanctuary fence - a reminder of the necessity to prevent unwanted intrusions threatening the bird life inside the Sanctuary.
We tested the southern part of the walk by starting from the Brooklyn Wind Turbine, walking Hawkins Hill Road, and then turning off just before the Radome to take the Red Rocks track to the coastline. Having now gained an idea of what was involved, the final task was to complete the entire walk. Our estimate was to allow for nine hours walking for the 24 km trip.
Saturday 7th March provided favourable weather, with clear skies, a light northerly, and a mild 21 degrees. Alan Knowles dropped us off at Truscott Avenue in Johnsonville at 7.00 a.m. and we aimed to finish the walk by 5.00 p.m. Good progress was made along the Skyline, encountering runners and cyclists as we walked. We emerged at Makara Road and then made our way down to the Makara Peak Mountain Bike car park in South Karori Road, arriving by noon.
From here, Dianne had discovered an alternative option for connecting our two routes, walking up Hazelwood Avenue and Fitzgerald Place to the South Karori water storage unit, then via the well-graded Blue cycle/walking trail to Wrights Hill Reserve carpark. We continued up Wrights Hill Road, taking a right turn onto the pathway that met up with the Zealandia fence and continued up the track outside the Sanctuary to where it joined Hawkins Hill Road near the Wind Turbine. We made our way along to the Red Rocks track just before the Hawkins Hill Radome, arriving at 2.30 p.m. Our schedule was looking good.
We had three stops for food breaks: morning tea below Johnston Hill on the Skyline path; lunch snacks at Fitzgerald Place; and at the commencement of the Red Rocks pathway. The last part of our journey was across the well-signposted undulating ridgeway tracks leading to the Red Rocks coastline. We completed the trip at 4.50 p.m., on schedule, and were pleased to be picked up by Alan at 5.00 p.m. We both had a huge sense of achievement. An enjoyable workout on a great Wellington day with fantastic views across Ohariu Valley, Wellington Harbour and the South Coast.
- Party members
- (leader and scribe).Muriel Christianson (scribe), Dianne Lee.