The first six weeks of the New Zealand year is the perfect season for adventuring. The sun is shining (hooray!), the days are long and days off work are abundant. It’s a known and widely accepted fact that kiwis chuck a bunch of sickies to enjoy the sunshine while it’s here. Just kidding. Well, maybe. Anyway, from December 25th until the 6th of February, Wellingtonians enjoy a very generous six public holidays. Excessive? No way. After the Xmas and new year period, we are treated to Wellington Anniversary day on Monday the 21st of January, followed by the national holiday- Waitangi Day -on Feb 6th. When I first moved here as an Australian I thought it was ridiculous, particularly the kiwi holiday for, ‘Day After New Year’s Day’, on January 2nd. The perfect excuse for a two day hangover? DAMN. Kiwis are smart! Now a year later, I think it’s utterly fabulous. No complaints here. Zero. GIVE ME ALL THE PUBLIC HOLIDAYS.
But after road tripping around South Island over the new year period (busy, stressful, give me my own bed please) I could not be arsed travelling for the long weekend. So I decided to stay in Wellington for anniversary weekend because, well, this city is fab enough. I messaged my friend:
“Shall we drag our asses up Mt. Kaukau this weekend?”
We were both expats and had lived in Wellington for over a year, yet neither of us had hiked up the mountain located just outside Wellington city. We were also desperately trying to shed the post-Christmas/New Year binge/excessive privileged over-indulgence kilos that had taken residence around our waists. So we agreed to tick it off the list to celebrate our city’s national day.
Mt. Kaukau is located 20 minutes from the city centre and there are multiple ways to get there. If you have a car (who owns a car in Wellington!?) you can simply drive to the Khandallah swimming pool and start the track there. You can also take the #52 bus. We opted for the train (Johnsonville line) and paid $10 for a return ticket. The trains are super nice here- very clean!- so it was a nice adventure. After ten minutes on the train we jumped off at Khandallah station and walked 500m to the start of the track.
The walk was easier than I expected, but after hiking the treacherous Roy’s Peak on January 2nd (the most beautiful hell I’ve ever encountered), everything is an absolute dream in comparison. The hike begins with some stairs and you can opt to veer off to a lookout early on. We checked it out then headed back to the main track. The track is rocky dirt with thick bush on either side. It did get pretty damn vertical in one section and the sweat began to bead and drip down our faces. Sexy. But the hike itself only took around 40 minutes to get to the top.
The view from the top is stunning. You’re on a grassy hill which is perfect for picnics. Looking south you can see Wellington city and the ocean behind it. But to the west, the view was far prettier. Wind turbines on the skyline track were visible in the distance and made for gorgeous photos standing atop the hills. Not good for selfies though. Don’t be that person.
Next time when I am fitter and feeling a zillion times more energetic, I’ll start from the skyline track in Karori and pray I don’t get blown away before I reach Mt. Kaukau. Oh, and i’ll pack wine. Maybe some cheese, too.