Maraenui – Paekawakawa (M)
14 April 2012
This traverse of the city’s deep south, at times off track, between Seatoun and Island Bay, took us to beaches, peninsulas, a pā, WWII fortifications, a gully, spurs, ridges, 1942-era and modern radar facilities, regenerating coastal forest, a kainga, and an unformed legal road. Tramping from Maraenui, the original name of the flat land at Seatoun, to Paekawakawa, we found the valley occupied by Island Bay, has plenty of variety.
On Point Dorset Reserve, renamed Orua-iti after the pā site, now marked by a pou whenua, we saw the start of Wellington City Council’s (WCC) work to make the fortifications safer, and easier to access. WCC recently purchased land here, which we had previously assumed to be part of the reserve. From Breaker Bay Road we ascended a creek, then a broad spur on the true right, to reach the Eastern Walkway. We gained approval from the Port Nicholson Settlement Trust to use this new route through regenerating forest in Rangitatau Reserve Precinct, site M109 in the District Plan
We sped along the walkway, watched yachts beating out of the heads into the cool southerly, then exited at Bury Grove. From Birkhall Grove we got onto the WWII sealed road south, past the faint markings of a tennis court where the road widens, to the sadly tagged WWII radar station, and Ahuriri St, Strathmore. From the flights of steps down towards the Moa Point Wastewater Treatment Plant, we watched golfers in bunkers and aircraft landing and taking off.
Lyall Bay beach, the high tide heightened by the southerly, was a crowded place, with dog walkers, driftwood, seaweed, a kite flyer, board-surfers, and several kite-surfers. Up Houghton Terrace steps and zigzag we went, enjoying the view eastwards, but getting hungry. Houghton Valley School’s playground was an ideal place to lunch, sheltered, and with a platform to sit on. We reached the playground via a track through the school’s coastal rainforest project, planted in 2002 in association with WCC – the trees now well over head high.
In Buckley Road Reserve, parsnip palm, up to 2m tall, native to Madeira, and karo, native to north of Poverty Bay, are prominent weeds. WCC has been felling and mulching large pines to assist with the restoration of the native plant communities. South along Buckley Road, we turned into Bann St to climb the grassy knob, 121 m, in Bann St – Orchy Cres Reserve, a fine view-point over rooftops to the south coast. Finally, we descended the zigzag past the pou whenua marking the site of Uruhau kainga, a fortified village of Ngai-tara, turned into Bristol St, clambered over the unformed legal road to the zigzag down to Brighton St, and reached Island Bay bus terminus about 5.25 hours after we left Seatoun.
- Party members
- Chris Horne, Wayne Perkins