Super Sewer Tour: Raroa - Kaukau - Kaiwharawhara
Sunday 13 February 2000
From Raroa Station we walked through Onslow College grounds, then climbed Truscott Ave loop track in Johnsonville Park's bush to the Northern Walkway. Kaukau (445m) was in cloud and cool, so after scroggin among the pines, we hastened through bush and scrub to the start of the recently re-opened route down to Satara Cres. This gives impressive views over suburbia, city, harbour and hills, and is one of the most spectacular routes off Kaukau.
From Satara Cres. to Cummings Park we could not avoid suburban streets, except for the 210 steps from Fox St. down to Awarua St. Station and the track from Awarua St. past the former timber yard to the park. We lunched here in bright sun, and checked torches for use in the Stygian gloom of the first and longest culvert. This takes Korimako Stream under Ngaio Library, Town Hall, roundabout and tennis club. It is a sinuous, not straight, requires most adults to walk leaning to one side, and takes 3-4 minutes to walk through. An entertaining introduction to underground Wellington!
By comparison the culverts downstream are short and easy. There is some native vegetation, including trees planted by adjoining owners, plus lots of weed species. The other blight upon the stream is litter. Frances Lee, club member and secretary of Trelissick Park/Ngaio Gorge Working Group handed out plastic shopping bags which we filled with paper, plastic and other litter for her to take to the landfill.
We had a break at Wightwich's Field, then descended the gorge, a picturesque place so near the city centre. Some of us went up and down the culvert, blasted through rock, which takes Kaiwharawhara Stream under the Johnsonville Railway Line. It features a noisy rapid and a few glow-worms (titiwai).
We followed the track down valley to Kaiwharawhara Power Magazine, built in 1880, then went through two more culverts. The last one is tricky. It has upright projections and domes to reduce the force of floodwaters, and a deep pool beyond it, fortunately with a gravel bar we could use. Three of us got wet en route to the gravel bar! Finally we walked along School Rd. and caught the No. 49 bus to town, after an entertaining 6 1/2 hour medium grade trip.
We thank Ngaio Progressive Association for copies of the pamphlet "Ngaio Walking Tracks and Features", and Wellington City Council for copies of the Northern Walkway leaflet.