Karori - Outer Town Belt - Aro Street
21 July 2001
We six were not to be discouraged from a day’s tramp by Hughie’s overcast sky, gusts and occasional rain. Except for one runner, one mountainbiker and a few people walking their dogs, we had the route to ourselves all day.
The first part of our trip was up the old trolley derby track in the plantation in Karori Park, then through a mixture of native bush and exotics to Te Wharangi ridge. On its west side we visited the remains of a big log hut, built by whom and for what we are still guessing. A bach perhaps?
From the tracks on Makara Hill (412 m) we got good views, and noted the regenerating native shrublands, but wondered how they would cope with the invasion of the alien Darwin’s barberry. The two-sided structure near the summit was perfectly sized to accommodate us as we had scroggin and brews, while reading the maps and other information on the walls.
The Ridgeline Track is an exciting walk on a blustery day, rather like a very short stretch of Tararua tops, but the route is being badly rutted by mountain-bike tyres, so is in urgent need of reinstatement. Further down, we enjoyed the regenerating forest along the SWIGG and Starfish tracks, and arrived at the picnic area beside Karori Stream.
At the end of Fitzgerald Place, off Hazelwood Avenue, the recently-built Deliverance Track in Wright Hill Recreation Reserve enabled us to see some impressive forest with lots of mamaku, several big mahoe and some tree fuchsias. Later, sheltering from a brief shower, we lunched in the bush below the summit, glad of the protection provided by parkas and over trou.
We stopped briefly at the summit (356 m) to see the huge gun pit and the view of the harbour, then turned south along Karori Sanctuary’s fence. Nearing the south end, we crossed a fence onto land owned by Wellington Natural Heritage Trust. It is known as Lot 1, Long Gully, and comprises over 50 ha of regenerating native forest above Silver Stream, a tributary of Karori Stream. The Trust has applied to the QEII National Trust to protect the land with an Open Space Covenant.
The grey day meant that we were the only people at the wind turbine and at Polhill (299m). The WWII anti-aircraft gun positions there are arguably more attractive than the house to the west, and somehow fit into the landscape better than some of the houses in the nearby subdivision! Fortunately none of the structures detract from the splendid view of the harbour and hills from the trig.
We bounded down the track from Ashton Fitchett Drive to upper Aro Street, and down to Aro Cafe for a warm welcome, hot drinks and essential treats.