Paekakariki Escarpment Track

Paekakariki Escarpment Track

Part of the Te Araroa trail, the Paekakariki Escarpment Track runs from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay. With regular train services joining the two ends on the Waikanae – Wellington line, the track can be walked from either direction. However, I recommend walking in the direction of the wind as this track is exposed, and the Wellington wind is known for being blustery.

This steep track offers 180-degree views from Pukerua bay over Kapiti island to Paekakariki with a rare bird's-eye view of the coast road and rail corridor.

If you are not a fan of heights or are unsteady on your feet it is probably best to sit this one out. The ten-kilometre walk climbs and descends 1000m while climbing over 1000 stairs (without handrails) and traversing two swing bridges.
The terrain offers a challenge to walkers (or runners) looking for it. Conversely, those seeking a more leisurely experience will find park benches at the numerous viewpoints and at the top of most climbs. Either way, reasonable fitness is required, also allow 4-6 hours to complete the track.

Pack some food and warm, and waterproof clothing, as Wellington weather can change quickly. It is a good idea to have a dry change of clothes in your vehicle for when you return, as even with a forecast of clearing isolated showers, I got very wet late in my walk, contrary to the weather forecast.

Along the route are many information panels detailing the historical significance of sites along the track, from Railway history to pre-European Maori settlements, everybody is sure to learn something.

Getting there:

The signposted track leads from the train station at Paekakariki or Pukerua bay.
From Paekakariki, cross the railway lines and follow the path as it takes you under the rail bridge and under SH1 before starting its ascent.
From Pukerua bay station, head to the southern end of the platform, crossing the tracks and heading north. The path takes you past the skate park and through suburban streets for 800m before the gravel path begins.

Trains run from Wellington to Waikanae, stopping at both the start and finish points of Pukerua bay and Paekakariki. These little settlements can lack parking close by.
Cash is accepted on the train if you are not local or do not have a snapper card, although it does incur a 25% charge. If you plan to travel on the train to other destinations, consider a Metlink day pass as a cheaper alternative, and if it is a multi-day trip or you are planning on exploring the area more, consider a snapper card for discounted and efficient public transport. Snapper also has a 25% discount for off-peak times (including weekends), so you will fast recover the $10 (+P&P) card cost.

Wildlife: 1

Scenic: 1

History / Points of interest: 1

Quiet / Relaxed: 1

Visit again: 1

Smiles per Hour rating: 5


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