This article was first published in the Tararua Tramper in October 2005
Manor Park – Belmont Regional Park - Paremata
6 March 2005 (Map R27, park leaflets, street maps)
From Manor Park Station, we walked north along McDougall Grove, then up a gully to Haywards Substation, and SH 58. Once into Belmont Regional Park, we grazed on blackberries on our way towards the quarry used for filming The Lord of the Rings, and at scroggin, agreed that we should keep our stops short, because of the cool wind, the long tramp ahead of us, and the forecast of a 120 km/h northwesterly late in the afternoon.
We enjoyed the bush tunnel along the Dry Creek loop, then used the “diretissima” route up pasture toward Boulder Hill, 442 m, where we abandoned hope of lunching, because of the strong wind and thick cloud. Fi was chuffed to get her bearings when, as we dropped below the cloud base, she saw the suburb of Porirua where she was brought up. Not easily deterred from eating, we found a sheltered possie in bush 15 minutes later. This forest remnant, which contains four species of podocarp, nikau, and numerous divaricating shrub species, warrants fencing to exclude stock, and covenanting to give it permanent protection.
Along Belmont Road, as we passed some of the WWII munitions magazines, we entered cloud again, and pressed on down past the sloping airstrip to Duck Creek. At Michele’s suggestion, we took the riparian route rather than the road, then climbed and descended past Maara Roa, Cannons Creek Covenant, sadly burnt at its northern end by arsonists.
Our route from Boulder Hill to near Cannons Creek Lakes was over State-Owned Enterprise Landcorp’s Waitangirua Farm, whose natural and recreational values are managed by Greater Wellington Regional Council as part of Belmont Regional Park. As Zone 3 of the regional park, Waitangirua Farm occupies 1243 ha, about 35% of the park’s c. 3500 ha.
Clearly the farm’s continued existence, in its entirety, as part of Belmont Regional Park, is essential to the integrity of the park. The best way to ensure this is for the Government to ask Landcorp to transfer ownership of the farm to the Department of Conservation at no cost, or for a token $1. DoC should then gazette the farm as Recreation Reserve under the Reserves Act 1977, and vest management of the property in Greater Wellington Regional Council. Arrangements for the continuation of farming should be made, and all remnants of indigenous vegetation fenced to exclude stock.
At Cannons Creek shops we had a quick stop for essential nourishment, then crossed the playing fields and descended to Kenepuru Stream, in Bothamley Park. Upstream, in the headwaters, is an example of extreme landscape modification. A huge subdivision, Aotea Block, on Baxters Knob, once a haunt for orienteers, is being created by giant earthmovers. The impacts of the resulting siltation of Porirua Harbour will probably be enormous, despite the big silt trap we passed.
The forecast strong gale arrived as we sped along Conclusion Walkway, to the top of Livet Lane, Papakowhai. Wind-whipped and back-lit, Porirua Harbour, and Whitireia Park, beyond, looked beautiful, and the buffeting we got added to our enjoyment of the view. Down suburban streets, and steps from Doon Grove, over the overbridge onto Paremata Station, and within minutes we were on the train to town, about 22,000 paces, according to Robin’s pedometer, and 7.25 hours after leaving Manor Park Station.
We thank Hutt City Council, Parks & Forests Division/Greater Wellington Regional Council, and Porirua City Council, for supplies of pamphlets and leaflets.
- Robin Chesterfield, Fi Coster, Michele Dickson, Chris Horne (leader/scribe), Don McMaster, Michael Taylor.