Connecting with nature – and each other

The Hutt Valley’s Te Whiti Riser walk is a great way to catch up and exercise at the same time for workmates Cass, Niki and Ella

Nature’s way

Colleagues Cass, Ella and Niki say walking trails like Te Whiti Riser gives them a chance to connect while being outdoors in nature.

“Nature is the best healer in many ways,” says Cass. “I believe maintaining a connection with the land is fundamental; it strengthens us physically, mentally and spiritually, as well as helping us gain a greater awareness of the world around us”.

The trio enjoy one of the region's newest walks, Te Whiti Riser, because it’s close enough to their inner-city workplace but far enough away to escape the busyness and reset.

“I feel really relaxed after I go for a walk on one of these trails because even though they are all so close to the city, being in nature makes you think you are miles away from it,” says Ella.

“It gives you some downtime, to switch off from the hustle and bustle of city living and just take a minute to relax, which can be really refreshing.”

Compact capital

Ella, Niki and Cass are quick to agree that the compact nature of the Wellington region means you can be in the central city one minute and among nature the next. Ella, originally from Twizel, has spent eight years in the capital and loves that one day she can be out for dinner, the next out for drinks and a show, to then hiking up one of the many local trails.

“It’s very convenient, and it means you can never get bored!”

At Te Whiti Riser, all three find the multi-purpose track for walkers, mountain bikers and dog walkers wide and smooth. The trail winds its way through different vegetation types and rewards you with extensive views of Hutt Valley and the sea from the top.

“I love these tracks as I’m a sucker for a great view of the ocean, which is handy being in Wellington and surrounded by water,” says Ella.

"The steep firebreak option at Te Whiti Riser is great for getting your heart rate up", says Niki, who loves being active, "though it can be exposed on the hill with not much shade."

Time for kai

On the way to or from Te Whiti Riser, pay a visit to Petone’s popular seaside café Seashore Cabaret.

Set in the old Petone Rowing Club, the café is fitted out with funky retro décor and a menu of generously-sized café food that’ll please vegans and non-vegans alike. With a top-notch brunch menu and excellent Good Fortune coffee, choose to eat in or pick up some of their bangin' cabinet food and stonkingly good baking for a picnic to take on the trail.

Other go-to trail faves

Coastal walks are Ella’s go-to walks. On a sunny day she could be anywhere along Red Rocks/Te Kopahou Reserve, through to Mākara Beach.

“Quite often I’ll be doing these walks with my friends, it’s a great way to catch up and get some exercise in at the same time.”

For Niki, Wellington’s trails lead to many great spots to watch the sunset from.

“I like heading up one of the many tracks on Matairangi/Mount Victoria and watching the sun set over the city. It puts into perspective how compact the city is.”

Cass’ favourite is Rangituhi/Colonial Knob, starting at the Camp Elsdon carpark.

“You’re nicely sheltered on the way up, and I recommend taking out your headphones to listen to the chorus of birds and trickling streams alongside you. The stairs get your heart rate up for sure, but the views at the top are worth it – you can see all of Porirua right out to Kapiti Island on a good day.”

A sunset walk is also worthwhile. Bring a head torch or phone light for the journey back down and keep an eye out on the rock faces for Colonial Knob’s shining residents, glow worms.

Nearby Battle Hill Farm Forest Park, with its native forest and grassy downs, and the Escarpment Track, renowned for its breathtaking views, also make for great weekend challenges.

Refresh and refuel

There are many post-trail favourites across the Wellington region and Cass, Niki and Ella all have theirs.

One of Cass’ is Local Authority in Porirua, best described as a pocket-sized coffee shop that packs a punch and is well-known for its great coffee, hot chocolates and smoothies.

“They serve excellent coffee, and when I am feeling peckish, I go for a smoothie or one of what I call their ‘fancy toast’ options. Served on quality bread with your choice of sweet or savoury toppings – you’ll never think of toast as plain again.”

After a walk around Owhiro Bay’s Red Rocks/Pariwhero Coastal Walk to Devil’s Gate at Sinclair Head, both Ella and Niki often drop into nearby Beach House and Kiosk with friends for a snack and a coffee with a view.

Perched opposite the rugged south coast between Owhiro Bay and Island Bay, Beach House and Kiosk is a great brunch spot that will have you struggling to decide what to order. The coffee is good, and the exhilarating views will astound you.

What's your wild?

The Wellington region is full of trails for all walks of life. Discover some of these, and where to treat yourself after, through the eyes of locals.

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