Wellington is a truly unique city in that it intertwines beautifully with nature. You can be completely immersed in lush native forest within 30 minutes drive from anywhere in the city! We have put together a list of suggested bushwalks in Wellington that can be taken on by just about anyone! Nothing too difficult, nothing that requires back-country knowledge, nothing that will put you off ever going for a hike again. This is our curated list of the best short bushwalks in Wellington city that have been Dropped as Crumbs on Breadcrumbs. Don’t forget that the majority of accidents in the outdoors occur on short/day walks. Tell someone where you are going, when you’ll be out and make sure you have the right gear for the level of walk. For more info, have a good read over The NZ Mountain Safety Council website!
One of our personal favorite bushwalks in Wellington is the Butterfly Creek Loop Walk – we think the best short walk there is in Wellington (although you might have a different favorite – Drop a Crumb to show it off)! Getting to Eastbourne involves a 30 minute drive or you can take the EastbyWest ferry ($24 return). Park up at the top of Kowhai St, then either walk the loop to the Butterfly Creek picnic area then on to Muritai Park (then back to Kowhai St) Or, simply turn back at the Creek and come back via the same track. The walk itself is a 3 hour loop which takes in a bit of a climb to some epic views over the harbour, before dropping into the lush valley of native forest where the Butterfly Creek picnic area is found. Boots may be desired in winter (or after heavy rain) but this one is definitely a well-graded track!
Slightly more demanding than the entry-level Butterfly Creek walk, the Smith Creek Shelter/Tauherenikau River walk is moving more into the hiking/tramping category than a simple stroll in the park. This walk involves driving out to Kaitoke and parking up at the DOC carpark at the end of Kiwi Ranch Road. There are a couple of options for the walk – the more difficult “Dobson Loop” which includes the hike up to Marchant Ridge OR the more gentle return trip to the Tauherenikau River via the Smith Creek Track. This walk is a medium difficulty walk with the track being often muddy and some clambering over roots required. There are also a couple of unbridged streams to cross. Take boots, plenty of water, food and layers and allow about 4-5 hours return (for the easy option) and 5-6 for the “Dobson Loop” walk.
The 6km Makara Beach Loop Walk is one of Wellington’s best summers day walks you could ask for! Go when the northerly isn’t blowing on a sunny day and you are treated to extensive views from the elevated position of the WW2 bunkers and the windmills, before strolling slowly along the rocky coastline (plenty of spots for a swim too!). This walk is not a difficult walk but it is pretty slow going walking back along the rocky beach! Start from the Makara Beach Carpark, walk along the coast and then take the first track up the hill to the windmill/bunkers area before dropping back down to the coast.
This is a very easy entry-level walk that meanders along the West Akatarawa River on an old 4×4 road. Not much uphill at all involved, really wide and well-graded track with lots of little scenic spots by the river along the way. Keep following the main road track until you reach the bridge – a good spot to stop for lunch before turning around! Keep an eye out for motorbikes and move off the track if you hear them coming. You won’t need boots for this walk but after rain there are puddles everywhere! An easy 2-2.5 hr return journey.
One of Wellington’s more notorious walks, the Escarpment Walkway or “Stairway to Heaven” as it is colloquially known is a really good day-walk to do on a sunny and windless day! A surprising amount of the walk is actually through bush and wildflowers, with the landscape changing virtually the whole way. Beware of the vertigo – the steep stairways can be a little offputting and on a busy day you can expect to wait as people move up-down in turns! You won’t need boots but take plenty of water as there is no water sources on the track. Park at the Pukerua Bay end and catch the train to Paekakariki then walk back to your car along the track.
Zealandia is a truly surprisingly awesome place to visit. You don’t really understand the extent of their work until you have visited and seen a Kaka face-to-face! Head along and pay the $17.50 entry fee then walk along one of the many tracks to explore the area. Tracks are all well-graded or cemented so no need for boots at all. Zealandia is as much a day’s activity as it is a bushwalk – a great way of experiencing how New Zealand’s birdlife could exist without the constant threat of pests.
Mt. Vic’s 360 views are laughed at by Kaukau. Standing above the western suburbs of the city, Kaukau provides a unique and pretty stunning platform to view every part of Wellington, through to the South Island. Take your pick of the tracks which range between 30 mins – 1 hour to get to the summit. Most tracks are well-maintained and boots are generally not required (allthough in Winter it might be useful!). Plenty of starting points to chose from, including Woodmancote Rd, Clark St and Simla Cres.
Otari-Wilton’s bush is a stunning reserve sitting in the valley between Wadestown and Karori. There are multiple tracks that take in different parts of the reserve, some leading to high points with clearings – others meandering along the streams at the bottom of the valley. We won’t recommend any specific tracks because each offers different benefits – head there to see for yourself!
Part of the Belmont Regional Park, the korokoro dam loop is an easy 1-2 hr track starting from Oakleigh Street. This Map provides a good visual explanation of the criss-cross of tracks in the park! Again, a pretty easy introductory walk that takes in some pretty noooooice native forest and NZ’s first gravity-fed concrete dam (for those of you that enjoy pretty boring facts). The dam itself does provide a pretty good photo opportunity so take along your camera if you are that way inclined! No boots required, but you might have to cross a few small streams if there has been rain.
No excuses this weekend right? You have all the suggestions you need for your weekend of bushwalking fun! Don’t forget to Drop A Crumb to share your favorite bushwalks around the city. If you think we have missed a banger of a walk then please let us know via the contact form below – we will be sure to add it to our list!