Lots of amazing walks in our Capital city

By Judith Doyle

For a capital city with an ever-increasing population, Wellington has an amazing choice of walks, even close to the city. From my home in the city suburb of Oriental Bay, I can decide on a waterfront wander, east or west; a bush and hillside walk; a climb to the top of Mt Victoria or a stroll along suburban roads with flashes of water between the houses.

Downhill at the seafront I have two choices. Go east and watch the dogs on the beach in winter, the swimmers and sunbathers in high summer and all the variations of weather and people at other times.

The road follows the curve of the beach until it reaches Point Jerningham where I can round the point and walk on to the cosy little curve of Balaena Bay. Here I often see windsurfers skipping across Evans Bay like syncopated butterflies.

If I choose to turn west at the seafront, I pass the whale statue (pictured) which was donated to the city by its sculptor Colin Webster-Watson.

Further on, I watch the children playing on the jungle-gym where a small boy always seems to be climbing up the slide and colliding with a child sliding down.

Past the Tugboat café moored in its own the little lagoon, I like to drop down from the footpath and walk along the edge of the water past the blue-fronted boatsheds, enjoying the variety of craft in the lagoon and occasionally peering into any boatshed that’s open to see the conglomeration of sailing equipment inside.

Up and past Clyde Quay with its classy restaurant and apartments, I walk towards the city past the statue (pictured) of a naked man by English sculptor Max Patte. Called Solace in the Wind, it leans out towards the harbour and is a favorite spot for tourist photos. It was donated to the city 11 years ago by its Patte, originally as a parting gift to a city he had worked in and enjoyed. But  later he found he’d enjoyed it so much that, in fact, he decided to stay.

If I decide to turn uphill from my home instead of downhill, then the whole Town Belt is at my disposal. I walk up a zigzag pathway that leads to the Monastery where I can turn left and later right to reach Charles Plimmer Park and then the variety of tracks in the Town Belt. Here are bushy tracks that even the sharpest Wellington winds cannot penetrate.

If I take one direction, I look down over Oriental Bay or up into the bush with its half-hidden houses. I then have a choice of tracks leading back down to the beach. Other tracks can be taken to the top of Mt Victoria (my energy doesn’t stretch to that walk very often these days) or along towards Newtown where I can walk through bush. Occasionally gaps in the bush allow me to gaze across towards the Basin Reserve.

For the growing numbers living in apartments, which will increase in future years according to current estimates, these walks and many others near the city are of enormous value.

We are so lucky that, in early days, a Town Belt of trees was reserved to encircle the city. Although a few ‘bites’ were taken out of it occasionally in the past, it is now protected legally and is sancrosant. The Town Belt and the tracks within it are a precious heritage and must be diligently protected forever.