Te Araroa walkway – Paekakariki Escarpment

The new Paekakariki Escarpment track proved to be a very civilized introduction to the WTMC. Nine of us – a mix of club old hands and newbies, Kiwis and recent arrivals – met at the Wellington railway station at 9 and took the train to Paekakariki. First things first, so we headed into a nearby café for a few to get their fix. It was a 10 minute stroll along suburban streets before a stairway took us under the highway and onto the track proper. From here, it was a gently undulating well-formed track. Informative signboards along the way told us about local history, geology and ecological restoration work. Kilometre markers helped keep tabs on progress but, as all trampers know, distance is meaningless without taking into account track conditions and altitude change. And so, shortly after the 3km marker, the gentle undulations were replaced by what the newly-built track is already famous for: steep stairways. Actually, they’re not that bad, but we did climb quite steadily, with switchbacks interspersed between stairways, followed by and ascending sidle to the south. With the Led Zeppelin plagiarism case in the papers that morning, it was inevitable that the day’s earworm was ‘Stairway to Heaven’. The views up and down the coast and across to Kapiti Island were superb and the stiff breeze was – for me, at least – welcome, as it kept the temperature down. Rain threatened from time to time but never got beyond a few spots.

Paekakariki Escarpment View
Paekakariki Escarpment


After an hour or so we reached a lookout at the high point, about 220m a.s.l., where an early lunchbreak was taken. From there, there was more southbound sidling, interspersed with rapid descents on more stairways. (Overall, the route is probably less brutal taking the southbound option). Twice, we dropped into a gully that was crossed on a swingbridge, and then inevitably had another stairway to climb. However, the overall tenor was of course downhill.

Paekakariki Escarpment







Paekakariki Escarpment Bridge

















We reached the railway line at the disused Muri station. A short stroll through a reserve was followed by a return to suburbia and on to Pukerua Bay station. The day was rounded off with a beer at Wellington station. As I said, a very civilized day out. The walk was only about 2½hrs and not really what most would call tramping – the boots some of us wore, and in one case gaiters, were overkill – but it’s a really nice peri-urban walk. I’ll be back – both on that track and on WTMC trips.


5 thoughts on “Te Araroa walkway – Paekakariki Escarpment”

  1. Thanks for the trip report David. I hope you’ve now been on lots of WTMC trips.
    I walked this track today having not been on the track for over a year. I was interested to see if there were any changes. There were a few – some extra seats, signage for TA walkers and an information board for all at both ends. The latter sets out last minute reminders of what users of the track will encounter and what they should bring. There are also a couple of sections where the track has recently slipped away (particularly at the creek near the bottom of the zig zag on the northern side).
    But, the most noticeable change is the fantastic progress of the restoration of the quarry –the ‘lizard quarry’. Great work is clearly being done by the Ngā Uruora – Kāpiti Project team. The signage boards are helpful and the colourful cut-out lizards are a nice touch.
    What hasn’t changed? The steps! There are still more than 750 ‘up’ steps Northbound and 400+ ‘up’ steps Southbound. The views, no matter where you are on the track, will always be stunning (at least on the clear days).

  2. The Te Araroa Wellington Trust have shared some interesting visitor stats on the Paekakariki Escarpment walk in their recent newsletter. From 1 January 2018 to mid-October the daily average has been 96 walkers (up from 55 last year). Weekdays see 60 (up from 31) with weekends at 184 (up from 112). 60% of visitors walk Southbound (from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay) with the remaining walking Northbound. The views are of course stunning in both directions. It’ll be interesting to hear, when available, what the ratio is of local day walkers/runners and TA walkers.


  3. Thank you David for a great trip report – I hope you are encouraged to come back an do more with the club. Wonderful to hear about this new day walk near Wellington – definitely one myself and Gareth will have to try one weekend. Beccy (Newsletter Editor)


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