Home to the rich and famous

Last updated 11:34 10/01/2014

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The Wellingtonian

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Karaka Bay Rd was once notable for the small baches dotted along it. These days it features the mansions of the rich and famous.

The eastern suburbs road and the bay were named after the karaka trees that grow abundantly in the area.

The trees do not have the best reputation with many, however, including the regional and city councils, which list them as a weed because they populate easily and invade the space needed by other natives.

The karaka berries were harvested by Maori and used in traditional cooking. The seeds of trees from one area were often taken when a tribe or family travelled to a new home.

Karaka Bay Rd once featured many typical beachside New Zealand houses, many of which were used as weekend homes by Wellingtonians.

Those times belong to another era.

The area has more recently become well-known for its link to Peter Jackson and his Weta mates.

Jackson bought his first two- roomed bungalow in Seatoun.

He now owns extensive property in the street and encourages movie stars to stay in Karaka Bay Rd, or in neighbouring houses in Marine Pde, when they are in New Zealand working.

Naomi Watts stayed in Karaka Bay Rd during the King Kong filming and Orlando Bloom and his family were seen looking at houses for sale during the Hobbit filming. Bloom stayed in a two- bedroom house in Marine Pde during the Lord of the Rings filming.

Looking at the letter box numbers, it would seem like Karaka Bay Rd is really long - the highest house number is 499.

However, the numbers in Karaka Bay Rd are rather odd. Instead of starting at 1, they start at 253.

The most expensive property in the road is 327 at $4 million. It's a complex of three houses.

Speed humps were installed in 2011 after several crashes and many more near-misses along the twisting road.

Robin Sayster of Lower Hutt lost control of his Toyota MR2 early on March 13, 2011.

He crashed into the rocks below Karaka Bay Rd and died. He was travelling at an estimated 80kmh, though the speed limit was 40kmh.

There were 19 crashes along the route between 2006 and 2010, two of them serious.

A popular haunt on the street is Scorch-O-Rama cafe, which opened in 2008. The building was originally Chocolate Fish cafe before rising council compliance costs and rent forced its closure in 2007. Chocolate Fish has since re- opened in Shelly Bay.

Scorch-O-Rama was a favourite of the Hobbit cast during filming, as was Chocolate Fish for the Lord of the Rings crew.

Many fans of the films would head to the cafe hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars.

Other features of the street are the Worser Bay Lifesaving Club, an old red phone box - a reminder of a time well past - the Karaka Bay wharf and Overton Park.

Overton Park is one of many links to the Crawford family on the peninsula. James Coutts Crawford was the first genuine Wellington settler. He arrived in Wellington in September 1839 and set up a farm on Miramar Peninsula. Overtoun (and Seatoun) were family holdings of the Crawford family in Scotland and the area between Nevay and Karaka Bay roads and the old hilltop pa site was first called the Township of Overton.

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- The Wellingtonian


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