As it traverses New Zealand, Te Araroa goes through seven cities, and the Wellington route is the most spectacular. It starts, as you’d expect, on a hill, climbing out of Rifle Range Road in the Ohariu Valley, and uses the Old Coach Road for most of the gradual 5 km ascent to Mt Kaukau’s summit. That 445 m summit is Wellington’s natural watchtower and keep. It holds the city below in the palm of its hand. There’s a seat to sit and soak up the view, but if the wind is blowing hurry along south and downwards on the Skyline Track, then Bells Track—all co-signed with Te Araroa’s logo—to join the Northern Walkway at Ngaio, and follow that well-signposted track through to the Botanic Gardens and the top of the Cable Car. By that time you’ll again enjoy a wonderful perch above the city, but closer, and you’ll have walked 10 kilometres from the Mt Kaukau summit. Maybe that’s enough and—no pressure—but Te Araroa through-walkers typically put in a 25 km day, so if you do want to bag the entire Te Araroa Wellington route, drop down to Kelburn Park and follow the City to Sea Walkway—also co-signed with Te Araroa logos—another 12 km to the seaside at Island Bay. Te Araroa’s North Island foundation stone sits in Island Bay’s Shorland Park. On December 3, 2011, the Governor-General Sir Jerry Mateparae unveiled the foundation stone and its plaque here, and declared Te Araroa open. The stone marks the ending—or for north-bound hikers the beginning—of the North Island Trail.