Te Araroa’s new ‘stairway to heaven’ beckons Wellington walkers
Wellington's newest walking track is not for the faint-hearted. It packs a punishing 492 steps and one of the toughest ascents in the region.
The $1.4 million custom-built track opens on April 9, and will run 10 kilometres alongside State Highway 1 between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay, above the North Island main trunk line.
The Paekakariki Escarpment track is part of Te Araroa – New Zealand's Trail, a 3000km route stretching from Cape Reinga to Bluff, which opened 2011.
Rob Wakelin, chief executive officer of Te Araroa, said walkers needed to beat a series of long steep staircases, but the stunning views of the Tasman Sea and South Island from the summit make it like a stairway to heaven.
The build started in 2011 after years of planning and fundraising.
Previously walkers were forced to walk along the Centennial Highway between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay.
Wakelin said the four-hour walk offered a magnificent New Zealand track experience, including two 40-metre swing bridges and Maori archaeological sites.
He said the breathtaking views would quickly make the track a popular Wellington region icon.
"I'm confident the Paekakariki Escarpment track will quickly become a must do in the Wellington region, offering something unique and unforgettable," Wakelin said.
"It's no doddle with a summit 220 metres above sea level. But it's a great place to stop, take some deep breaths and enjoy the wonder of the track's views."
Te Araroa's popularity would stimulate enterprise along the route, including accommodation, transport and other services for walkers, Wakelin said.
An open day event has been scheduled for April 9. However, those interested need to register at te-araroa-stairway-to-heaven.eventbrite.com.
Five walks will be happening during the day, leaving every 30 mins between 11am and 1pm, and going from Paekakariki to Pukerua Bay.
Walkers are encouraged to take the train or public transport to Paekakariki train station. If people do drive, they should park in the train station car park.
Guides at the train station will direct walkers to the track entrance at the south end of Ames St.
There will also be a track history and information drop-in centre at St Peter's Village Hall, Beach Rd, Paekakariki from 9am, and sausage sizzles at Pukerua Bay and Paekakariki village.
- Kapi-Mana News