On the Southern Walkway, discover Truby King Park
With interesting history and stunning grounds, this heritage site makes for an ideal place to stop and take in the city and sea below
Following the town belt, the Southern Walkway spans well-loved parks, suburbs and the windy coast of Island Bay.
One top spot to check out while on the trail is the Truby King Park. This heritage-listed estate is made up of beautifully cared for grounds, including a pine forest and mausoleum, as well as a homestead and private factory.
Who was Sir Truby King?
Born in 1858, Sir Truby King is best known for founding the Plunket Society, which was established in 1907 with his wife Lady Isabella King. The society was focused on improving the health of infants, children and mothers. The duo later founded similar societies in England, Australia, South Africa, India and Canada.
Starting out in the world of banking, King transferred into medicine at the age of 22 and went on to have a varied career that took him throughout New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Australia. Over time, King developed a passion for the care and nutrition of women and children, a passion that would eventually see him knighted and later inscribed on a New Zealand postage stamp.
In 1922, King bought the 10 acre block of land in Melrose, where he built his home, the Karitane Hospital and a factory for the Plunket Society, where infant milk and food products were manufactured.
Why it’s worth a visit
With views overlooking the city, a quiet and historic ambiance, and ties to a significant New Zealand story, the Truby King Park is worth a stop when on the Southern Walkway.
The home itself was designed by Wellington architect William Gray Young in 1923. It was designed for the King family to be a single storey bungalow with a wide verandah.
King and gardener Dan Russell created the surrounding grounds, including the shelter belt of radiata pine, tennis courts and rhododendron dells. These are still flourishing today, while bountiful cherry trees have been added to the drive around the house.
Since the Kings owned and lived in the abode, the building has had many lives. It was donated to the Plunket society in 1932, became part of the Karitane Products Society in the 1940s, was commandeered by the army during WWII, then returned to Plunket and used to accommodate senior nurses and the Matron. The park was then purchased by the Wellington City Council in 1991.
Today, the house itself is leased to Conservation Volunteers New Zealand as a hostel for their volunteers and is closed to the public except for the annual open day.
On your visit you may notice maintenance taking place. As the current owners of the heritage site, the Wellington City Council is committed to protecting and maintaining the paths and structures for future generations.
When you visit, you’re invited to take your time exploring the historic sites, visit the mausoleum of Sir Truby and Lady Isabella, rehydrate and stop for a bite to eat in the gardens, and take in the views to the sea below.
Top tips for the Southern Walkway
- Melrose Park and Sinclair Park both have kids play areas if you decide to tackle the hike as a family
- In Island Bay, towards the end of the track, grab fish and chips from Chopsticks Takeaways and eat them at Shorland Park or the beach. Another great option is to grab a coffee or bite from Betsy