Three valleys, two summits & Old Bullock Rd E
14 March 2021
Our trans-suburban tramp linked the head of Ōwhiro Stream’s valley at Brooklyn shops with the reservoir above Karepa St, Kōwhai Park, with the valley of Waimapihi Stream above Aro St, and with Highbury Reservoir and the valley of Te Mahanga Stream, the tributary of Kaiwharawhara Stream which rises in Karori Sanctuary’s valley.
Off Todman St, we climbed the right-of-way / ‘snicket’ between Nos. 15 and 19 Charlotte Ave, to the flat, paved, grass-lined strip below the slopes of Brooklyn War Memorial Park, then up to the WW1 monument, the harbour glistening in the bright sun. Up 67 steps from Mitchell St we came to Karepa St reservoir’s grass-covered flat top, about 200 m above sea level. We looked over the harbour to the Tararua Range, then munched scroggin sitting on the flat metal cover of some of the water-supply equipment. En route to the north end of Karepa St, we met one of Peter’s colleagues who lives in the street and asked him about a film made there years ago. It featured a house in the street, once the home or base of a band which travelled to play to audiences up and down the motu.
Down a sealed footpath off the end of Karepa St we reached Transient Track, Polhill Reserve and half an hour later, travelling mostly in cool, regenerating forest, we found a shady, flattish spot about 20 m off-track for lunch. We were often impressed at the steepness of the forested slopes below the track and glad that Victoria University’s plans of decades ago to fill in the valley and build a campus there ended. Later, WCC’s Polhill Reserve was incorporated in the Wellington Town Belt by the Town Belt Act 2016.
At the top of Aro St we chatted with local historian, John D. Whitty of ‘Mitchelltown’ as Holloway Rd was once known. As we stood by the remains of the toilet block where Bill Sutch was once said to have met a Russian envoy to discuss espionage, John told us that a relevant plaque had been placed on the lawn across Holloway Rd. We walked up the road, past the former butchery until, at the Old Bullock Rd sign, we stood opposite the former Mitchelltown Post Office, now painted bright yellow. At the top of Old Bullock Rd, it becomes a flight of steps up to Raroa Rd, giving us a few blackberries to eat and the sight of the well-known elderly house. We walked up the shady path from the sign pointing to Mt Pleasant Rd, then across it to the Old Bullock Rd sign pointing up the steep path. We passed a house from which came the scent of joss sticks, then a house decorated with 1990 Sesqui centennial signs and soon arrived at Koromiko Rd and the bottom of Broomhill Rd. Up this we trudged, amazed at the steepness of sites on which some houses are built. Then we strode along Highbury Cres, Highbury Rd and finally up Disley St. At the side road indicating ‘Highbury Forest & Bird Nursery’ we climbed to our final summit, Highbury Reservoir, about 210 m above sea level. From its flat top we enjoyed splendid views over the harbour to its surrounding ranges, then descended a track through bush to Nos. 39 Waiapu Rd (HQ of Zero Introduced Predators - ZIP), and No. 37 Waiapu Rd, base for Zealandia staff involved in monitoring native fauna and pest-animal control. Once on Waiapu Rd, two of us went homewards and three enjoyed hot drinks and cake at Zealandia’s Rātā Café.
- Party members
- Diana Barnes, Bob Cijffers, Michele Dickson, Chris Horne (leader and scribe), Peter Shanahan.