Paekakariki Escarpment Track

Written by      

Geoff Chapple

Some of Te Araroa’s routes are less thanideal. The footpath between Paekakariki andPukerua Bay just north of Wellington, for example, runs alongside the busy Centennial Highway, and few but the dedicated through
tramper would walk it.

Te Araroa Trust is gradually eliminating such sections, and work is underway here on a new 7-km route with some of the most amazing coastal views in the country—the Paekakariki Escarpment Track.

The track is unfinished, but Wellington Te Araroa Trust recently decided that the first two kilometres should be opened as a daywalk to allow walkers a sample of its considerable charms. It’s not properly signposted yet, but here’s how to do it.

Get to Paekakariki by train or car. Walk past the local cafes and turn down Ames Street. Halfway along, the present Te Araroa through route leaves Ames Street for the Domain, but ignore that, and continue along Ames Street to its junction with State Highway One. Turn left and follow the footpath north across the highway over-bridge, then descend stairs to go under the highway.

The track that begins here is high standard. Water crossings are bridged, and sports shoes are sufficient footwear, but take a jacket for it can get windy. It ascends with seats at various viewpoints to a height of 80 metres, with sweeping views along the western coast, and out to Kapiti Island.

About two kilometers along the escarpment you’ll strike a barrier across the track. Turn there and make your way back. The contractor is working beyond the barrier, taking the track up to a 200-metre lookout point. From there it’ll taper down to finish at the old Muri Railway Station. When the blue line is complete, the whole track will become part of Te Araroa’s through route.

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