City to Sea and Southern Walkway
The City to Sea walkway is a fun mix of urban and trail walking with great views of Wellington and even the South Island on a good day. I’d finally gotten around to doing the walk during lockdown and enjoyed it so much that when the call went out for day walks during Level Two I thought this would be perfect. Of course, being a tramping club, we needed more of a challenge and everyone likes a good loop so why not add in the Southern Walkway too.
Four of us met at the Cenotaph outside Parliament (the War Memorial thing) and after waiting for another person, who doesn’t end up joining on account of sleeping in, we head off just about 8.15 am. The morning is pretty cold but we soon warm up as we head through Bolton Street cemetery and up through the Botanic Gardens. A quick photo stop at the cable car (proof of blue sky) and we’re off again down through Kelburn and towards the second cemetery of the day (Mount Street).
The thing I really like about the City to Sea walkway is finding little parks around Wellington that I never knew existed. After winding through Aro Valley and admiring the brightly painted houses, the trail takes us through Tanera park, Central Park and Prince of Wales Park. About this stage we stop for some morning tea at a lovely picnic bench with a great view of an old corrugated roof. Of course this sparks a conversation about the new 2021 calendar we’re going to publish – the Roofs of Wellington.
With morning tea done and dusted we continue towards the south coast. The sky seems to have clouded over taking away the sun and warmth. It’s a constant struggle between being too chilly and putting a layer on, and getting too hot on the next uphill and taking the layer off. Such is the life of tramping.
The next section of the trail is my favourite with great views over the southern suburbs and even a short section that feels like you’re on a ridge with 360 degree views. As we emerge from Tawatawa Reserve and out onto the pavement of Frobisher Street, we strike a bit of luck and have clear views over to the snow capped mountains of the South Island. What a sight! An easy walk along the pavement suddenly becomes all the more challenging on account of trying to constantly look at the mountains.
We end up at Island Bay just about 12:15 pm, making it more or less four hours for the 14.4 km walk. After a well deserved lunch (and coffee!) we say goodbye to one member and carry on to start on the southern walkway back towards the city. Much of the walk is along the town belt with some great views from Mt Albert. It’s about here that you can look over to the west and see where you’ve walked in the morning. We then skirt around the zoo, walk through Alexander Park to Mt Victoria and then down to Oriental Bay. At 10.6 km the southern walkway is shorter than the City to Sea and it takes us 2 1⁄2 hours, finishing about 3:30 pm.