This is one of my favourite walks. I can confidently say I’ve done this trig walk at least 3 times and the view is truly worth the climb. It’s a perfect 1/2 day walk if you take your time or it can be a brisk training walk if you hoof it as we were during a slim weather window. Its been raining for the best part of the week in Wellington but on Sunday afternoon we finally got a break. We quickly got ready and headed out to Belmont Regional Park to our preferred street entry on Oakleigh Road in the suburb of Mangauraki. The regional park extends up from Petone and is fringed by homes and urban infrastructure although once you get started on the tracks here you wouldn’t know it. Last year saw this area extensively damaged by winter storms and the park was closed for several months while tracks were repaired and storm damaged areas cleared. The area is still prone to rock fall and this is very evident with Korokoro valley walk from Cornish Street still closed.
Leaving the car park at 2:00pm we descended down to the Korokoro dam with a few mountain bikers passing us along the way. Korokoro dam is a manmade dam that was built in 1903, the dam now feeds into the Korokoro stream that the well-formed track follows under a canopy of podocarp forest. The old pine plantation areas are still visible once you leave the forest canopy and head up to the trig. Extensive tree felling has taken place along the track to try to regenerate native forest. From here its solid uphill for an hour or so at a good pace following my favourite track name ‘baked beans bend’. The track is well-formed switchbacks that re-enters into podocarp forest with a wide range of trees including nikau palms, beech, miro and tawa trees. We came across a few miro trees where tui and kereru had obviously been snacking and had left a trail of munched on miro berries in their wake. As the weather had been supremely damp of late there was an abundance of odd looking mushrooms that laced the beech tree trunks along with hunter green moss.
From there the track opens up onto an exposed ridge and it was here that we started to get our first views behind us of Wellington city and the harbour. We could see Matiu (Somes) and Mokopuna island all the way out to Fitzroy bay opening to the Cook Strait. The podocarp forest was quickly replaced with land that had clearly been burnt off at some point for extensive farming. The yellow flowering gauze up here lined the sides of the track as we pushed on to the trig. Suddenly a couple was running towards us and they seemed surprised to see us. They asked how long it had taken us to make it up which was just over an hour. They came over from the other side – the official Belmont Trig walkway and were contemplating the best way down now that it was getting late in the day. They walked back up to the trig with us and settled behind a rock for a cup of tea. We took in the view at 457 meters and the 360 degree views were priceless. There was a good dusting of snow on the Rimitakas and we could make out the wind farm in Makara, the Hutt valley, Porirua and the in the distance the jagged ‘toblerone’ peaks of Kapiti Island along with the full view of Wellington and the Harbour for which there was a small puff of rainbow over East Coast. The view was 5 stars but it was so cold at the top we did not linger for too long and swiftly made our way back down via Bridleway.
The winter sun was already low and we knew it would be dark before we made our way back. The bridleway was downhill all the way on a grassy farmland track back to ‘baked beans bend’. Stopping for scroggin once we reached the Korokoro stream the piwakawakas appeared darting in and out of the bush threating to swipe our snacks. We briefly caught a glimpse of a kereru hearing its helicopter wings beating through the trees seeing just a flash of white and green. Once back under the canopy it was pitch black with fragments of sunlight filtering through the treetops. Once we got to korokoro dam the white noise of the river guided us over the bridge and we knew it was all up hill from here. We managed to make it down from the trig and back to the carpark in an hour and hoped the couple at the trig had made it back before dark. We walked up to a small lookout adjacent to the carpark to take in the thin pink sliver of sun light on the hill tops before making our way home.
Photos by Jackson Smith Faulkner at http://www.thecabinsupplyco.com