Across the bay from New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, are the rolling green hills of Upper Hutt. This greater Wellington suburb 30km (18.6 miles) north of the city centre is surrounded by native bush, forest-clad hills and the Hutt River. So if you want to escape the city, pull on your best walking shoes and head out on one of these walks.
The Kaitoke Regional Park, at the foothills of the Tararua Ranges, has one of the best examples of true temperate rainforest in Wellington. But any fans of JRR Tolkien, should take note: this was the filming location for the majestic Elven valley of Rivendell for The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring movie. There is also a network of short tracks including a one-hour walk through rimu and rata forest to a swing bridge. But a real insider tip is to visit the park at sunset on a cool summer’s evening, because it really does show off the best of this stunning region. For those wanting something more challenging, set off on the Ridge Track, a walk for experienced hikers that offers views across the Hutt Valley.
Mount Climie Ridge is part of the Remutaka Range that can be seen from Wellington’s city centre. The 12-kilometre (7.5-mile) return track to reach the summit follows a steep section through tree ferns in the lower forest and red and silver beech trees in the higher sections. At the foothills of Mount Climie is the Tunnel Gully Recreation Area, a great place for picnicking and mountain-biking. Take the 3km (1.8-mile) return tunnel track and explore the now disused Mangaroa Tunnel, an old railway tunnel built between 1875 and 1877.
Upper Hutt’s 8km (4.9-mile) return walk along Cannon Point Walkway to the historic Birchville Dam is used by mountain-bikers and hikers. The track goes through regenerating vegetation and mature bush in the Akatarawa Forest, with a short zigzag descent that crosses over a suspension bridge linking down to the Hutt River Trail.
Upper Hutt’s Remutaka Hill is part of the popular Remutaka cycle track. For those who don’t have a lot of time but still want a short walk for scenic views head for the Remutaka Trig Track to the summit of Remutaka Hill. This 30-minute walk offering spectacular views of Upper Hutt Valley and Wairarapa can be reached from the parking lot on State Highway 2. For those with more time, do the Remutaka Rail Trail, a 17-kilometre (10.5-mile) track that passes through the Summit Tunnel and offers many places to stop and swim along the Pakuratahi River.
Keith George Memorial Park and Silverstream Scenic Reserve are situated next to each other on the western side of the Hutt River. These two reserves offer a network of challenging short and long walks through beech and tawa forest. Walk up the Loop Track and link up to the Pylon Track and then return along the Trig and North Ridge Loop Track.
Walk in a forest of kahikatea, totara and matai trees on the Barton’s Bush walking track. This easy 30-60 minute walk is situated between the Trentham Memorial Park and the Hutt River Trail. The area is named after Richard Barton, one of the earliest European settlers to the area who arrived in New Zealand in 1841.
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