12 September 2015
From the bus stop opposite Wellington Zoo, we scrambled up steep, pine-clad, Town Belt land from the end of Owen St to Truby King Park, 1.9 ha, one of the city’s four botanic gardens. Medical practitioner Sir Truby and Isabella King’s fine house, ‘Mt Melrose’, is surrounded by gardens he developed in the 1920s, among an impressive array of brick walls, arches and the striking ‘Moongate’. Together, Truby and Isabella founded the Society for the Promotion of the Health of Women and Children, popularly known as the Plunket Society, to care for the welfare of mothers and babies. After seeing the Kings’ mausoleum, we descended steep Rodrigo Rd, went south along the upper part of Imperial Tce, then down Regal Gardens zigzag to Queens Dr, Kilbirnie.
We traipsed along the recently opened Leonie Gill Walkway from Cockburn St, past Rongotai College, to Tirangi Rd. This route, once a dirt track known as the ‘Drainage Reserve’, lies above culverts taking wastewater to the Moa Point treatment plant. Beyond the airport runway underpass to Miro St, Miramar, we walked to WCC’s Hobart Park Flats development and out onto Wayside. In Fife Lane, we read the plaque in front of the first state house, built in 1937 under the Labour Government’s housing programme. We inspected Scots College’s peaceful quad, then from the end of Walden St, Strathmore, took steps up and over to Strathmore Ave.
Lunch in the sun on decking between classrooms at Kahurangi School readied us for the slog up 277 steps from Elphinstone Avenue to Tannadyce St. These steps, built years ago, are of a really durable design, each comprising a concrete slab laid on a bed of bricks. The same design was used on steps on Nakora Rd, Karaka Bays. Alan said that each WCC city engineer had had a preferred design for such infrastructure, and the two sets of steps would be to the design preferred by a particular engineer.
Beacon Hill Reserve, between Tannadyce St, Strathmore, and the Eastern Walkway, is a pleasing contrast with suburbia. We entered it by walking up to the first corner on the driveway to no. 64. The driveway lies on the broad access strip to the reserve. We used a route, formed on the pre-trip recce, which descends briefly from the bush edge, then climbs gently on the true right side of the gully. At first, the route is through infestations of a Pseudopanax hybrid, a lacebark and karaka, none native to Wellington, plus lots of litter. Then the forest opens out, and after passing a section of abandoned concrete culvert, we climbed to tall pines, and a junction on the Eastern Walkway. Our descent of Rangitatau Reserve from the Eastern Walkway to Eve Bay, led first to the head of a basin-shaped gully. We skirted this to the southeast, continued downwards, and after scrambling through coastal flax/wharariki and dense native scrub, reached the tiny creek. The lower part of its valley is a mass of invasive cape ivy, montbretia, and some ginger. Beyond, a grassy area leads out to Breaker Bay Rd next to a substation. We crossed the Pass of Branda, named after the pass at the head of Loch Awe in Scotland. Soon we were seated at a table on Seatoun’s Dundas St footpath, in the sun outside Franco’s Trattoria, enjoying hot drinks and well-earned treats, while Alan tested us with a quiz, as we waited for the no. 11 bus to town.
- Party members
- Hera Cook, Chris Horne (leader and scribe), Chris Leather, Gerald Leather, Jeanette Martin, David McCrone, Karen Threadwell, Alan Wright. ‘Loki’ and ‘Twyla’.