Wellington hill walks: Mt Crawford (Pt 1) via Maupuia
Miramar peninsula is a great place to live and I’ve raved about it plenty before. One part that I rarely venture into is Maupuia, the suburb on the hill as you fly in from the north.
It’s a bit of a funny place. On one hand Maupuia has the hallmarks of exclusivity – fantastic harbour views, loads of sun and upmarket houses. One of our most famous All Blacks used to live in one of the cliff-top mansions. On the other hand, it has a good measure of downmarket houses like any other suburb and the commercial buildings are perched in rather ugly and ungainly fashion on top of the hill, with rears facing out over the edge. Maupuia is also home to Wellington Prison.
A walkway along part of the hilltop has always looked appealing but as is often the case, you never get round to doing the stuff on your doorstep. Until this sunny Sunday rolled around!
One of my ravings about the peninsula has been its military history. In the course of some pre-walk research I came across a site which indicated that the various old inland military roads (many of which are hidden from view) can in fact be walked on. So we had a loose plan to go find some of that too.
Anyway, time to get going…
The walkway is very short, less than a kilometre. It would have been an anticlimax to end our walk there so we carried on to the top of the hill where some of the military roads could be accessed.
One slight complication was whether or not we could actually use the road on account of the prison further up. If the sign is to be believed – and it looked rather official – our entry wasn’t exactly authorised. But our wavering was decided when a couple of cyclists pedalled on through.
The prison is at the top of the hill. It is one of the country’s smallest, housing 120 men, and its future has been called into question. A much bigger prison is based in Upper Hutt. It certainly seemed open for business with flag flying and carpark full. We didn’t loiter, not knowing if we were legitimately OK to be there.
The paths we were after led off from the carpark. We set off down the forested hillside, excited to see what was hidden among the trees.
I had heard they were doing some Hobbit filming on old defence land and well, here it was. We will have to try again later in the year.
We returned to the carpark and found the second path. A little more rustic this one, across paddocks. Off to the side is the site of an old infantry redoubt. We carried on to a lookout point.
While we plotted our next move, we could see down the hill a security office for the filming. Clearly we couldn’t go that way. In the other direction was the remains of one of the peninsula’s forts.
…Easier said than done! To be continued.