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Posts tagged ‘walk’

The best walk home in the world (part 1)

While the bus is my usual mode of transport on the daily migration to and from work, we do live in walking distance of the CBD. When time and weather permit I like to take Shanks’ pony – from work at least, as it’s too much of a logistical pain to do it in the morning. I’ve been making the most of the summer and being able to walk home in daylight, however the frequency will lessen after this month both with the departure of daylight savings and the arrival of exam study.

My preferred route is the via the waterfront, slightly longer than the inland options available, but more picturesque and better for the soul. There’s something therapeutic about fresh sea air especially when accompanied by beautiful harbour views. And at around 10km / 1.5 hours it’s not bad exercise either.

From work I make a short beeline to the central waterfront. As far as city waterfronts go, Wellington’s is a pretty good one with a lot of interesting features and inviting public spaces. It’s very popular especially in summer. As well as the usual array of water activities taking place, currently it’s also dragon boat season.

Dragon boat teams practicing in the harbour, Port of Wellington behind

The walkway goes along around past the national museum and marina.

Looking across to Chaffers Marina sitting below Mount Victoria with iconic Wellington houses and monastery nestled on the hill

Yachting and boating are well supported pastimes here. One of the things I love most about the many coastal roads around Wellington are the old boatsheds that pop up here and there.

Boat sheds at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Club

Not much further on I join Oriental Parade and navigate the masses that usually exercise or congregate around Oriental Bay. In 2004 the council replenished the beach with 17500 cubic metres of sand, a project that has helped make this an immensely popular area.

Oriental Bay, the closest beach to the city

The footpath narrows as I approach Point Jerningham and before bracing for the usual hit of wind once around the corner, a short stretch of vegetation partly obscures the harbour views.

A container ship being guided to the port

Further around the winding waterfront the number of other path users diminishes, providing a bit more solitude though the hum of traffic alongside is fairly constant.

The waterfront is a magnet for runners and walkers

By now I’m walking along Evans Bay Parade and on very windy days it must be amusing for vehicles watching keen walkers stagger drunkenly as they get pushed around by mother nature. Not far from the end of this stretch of waterfront is Greta Point, now quite a nicely developed place with apartments, cafes and green space. And lots of birdlife.

Low tide at Greta Point looking across to old wharf remains and beyond to the Miramar Peninsula

The pier at Greta Point is closed to all but seagulls

Due to the number of photos I’ve split the post – the exciting (!) part 2 to follow.

Coastal goodness close to home

Wellington is a great place to visit and to live. I’m not born ‘n’ bred but have been here a few years now and the best thing about for me is its rather epic location. Tucked at the bottom of the North Island, Welly as it is fondly known sprawls over rather brutal hilly bush-covered terrain until it hits the CBD on the waterfront. This is the eastern-most part of the fabulous Wellington Harbour which gives the city the coastline that partly typifies it.

I live on the Miramar Peninsula located in the south-eastern corner of the city. It is a peninsula thanks to an earthquake in the 15th(ish) century which changed its former status as an island. As well as coughing up the flat land on which my house sits, the earthquake also gave Wellington an ideal place for its airport. We’re supposedly overdue for another Big One – however we won’t dwell on that.

I love living so near to the coast and being able to see the harbour every day. The peninsula has a perimeter road which is popular for sightseers, cyclists, runners and their much slower counterparts, and people seeking kaimoana (seafood). Opportunities exist for motorsport enthusiasts too, with sprint events a couple of times a year. My own running days are now behind me but I take in the occasional walk locally and was recently seized by the idea to complete a full circuit of the peninsula. So last weekend armed with camera I set off on the 17km journey.

A dull day but there's always something to love about this place

The weather gods were in a bit of a grump this day giving me dull overcast light and misty rain, however I love Welly in all her moods – especially dare I say it when she’s mightily ticked off. (Most locals agree though, the often present wind can make you a bit batty.) In my favour was that the weather blahness reduced the general levels of activity around the road, a good thing when I lingered in the middle of it a couple of times to take photos.

In some parts I found quiet moments to take in the surrounds with no buildings, vehicles or people in earshot or sight. Blissful, though by no means unusual around Wellington. Around the peninsula there is always something interesting to look at and a few of these features are:

  • Old military installations. A few still have decent remains to look at, though sadly none are being actively preserved. The road takes you through the old Shelly Bay airforce base, and with short deviations you can also find Fort Ballance and Fort Dorset. This is a bit of an interest area of mine and I’ll do some separe posts on these places.
Wharf remains at the old Shelly Bay base
  • A rather beautiful memorial to one of NZ’s prime ministers. I have since found out that there are gun battery remains above it, so will definitely be heading back there. Located above the road and access via a short easy walk, it would normally offer nice views and while visibility on this day was poor, the sound travelled easily from the international rugby sevens tournament being staged at our main sports stadium across the harbour.
  • Cafes in Shelly Bay, Scorching Bay and Seatoun. Coffee is never far away in Wellington!
  • The Ataturk Memorial. This monument arose from a reciprocal agreement between NZ, Australia and Turkey in return for the naming of Anzac Cove on the Gallipoli peninsula. Involving quite an uphill trek, the views alone are worth it. I enjoy attending the service here on ANZAC day.

Wellington Harbour from the Ataturk Memorial, Anzac Day 2010

  • Memorials to the Wahine sinking. The harbour has claimed numerous vessels including the inter-island ferry Wahine in 1968 with large loss of life. The main culprit is usually visible – Barrett’s Reef, a rocky obstacle in the entry to the harbour.
  • Naturist beach! The peninsula road is blissfully flat aside from a relatively gentle rise over the Pass of Branda through to Breaker Bay, a great place for watching southerly storms … and if you’re so inclined, a walk along the beach to find a secluded area to sunbathe in ‘clothing optional’ fashion.
  • Penguins, supposedly. There are a few signs warning that these little fellas could cross the road but I’m yet to see one.
  • Airport. As well as the regular presence of aircraft, the whiffs of aviation fuel being carried on the wind may also give this away.

My route home on this occasion took me via the airport through road, with suburbia then replacing coastline as I made the final homeward trudge, legs sore from four hours of activity and feet dying to be freed from grit-filled socks. Spirits tired but happy.

Wharf on Seatoun beach

Tarakena Bay, situated below the Ataturk Memorial

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