Wintry Wellington walks

Embrace the wintry elements and head outdoors on one of Wellington’s amazing trails. Whether you’re keen on meandering through native bush or want a climb with rewarding views, there’s something for everyone

Mount Victoria Lookout

It’s only minutes from the CBD, but the climb through historic pine forests to the summit of Mt Victoria is worth the spectacular views of Wellington Harbour and the city from the top.

Mostly sheltered from wintry conditions, you can opt for shorter or longer walks depending on how you feel. Start from Oriental Bay for a quicker option, allow 1.5 hours for the loop from Courtenay Place up Majoribanks Street to the summit and back via Oriental Bay, or factor it in as part of a longer day walk along the Southern Walkway from Oriental Bay to Island Bay.

Fuel up beforehand or replenish afterwards with coffee and treats from Tomboy Café and Bakery on Majoribanks Street or brunch at Beach Babylon on Oriental Parade.

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Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush

Just a 15-minute drive or an easy bus trip from the city centre, Ōtari-Wilton’s Bush is one of the capital’s hidden gems. The only botanic garden in New Zealand dedicated to native plants, wander through original native forest and enjoy the surrounding plant life and native wildlife on one of the numerous trails on offer.

Ranging from 10 minutes to 2.5 hours and catering to various abilities, the trails are well-maintained and sheltered for wintry days. The new and carefully built Blue Trail makes it easier to get to Moko, the 800-year-old rimu and oldest tree in Wellington.

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Castlepoint Lighthouse

Take a trip over the hill to nearby Wairarapa to visit one of the most Instagrammable locations in the greater Wellington region. The Castlepoint Lighthouse walk is perfect on a clear, fresh winter’s morning with its paved track that follows the cliffs above Castlepoint Scenic Reserve to one of the most iconic landmarks in the country.

Take in breathtaking views over the Wairarapa coast, fossick for fossil shells on the beach below, and revel in the history of one of New Zealand’s last remaining beam lighthouses, built in 1913. You may even encounter a colony of fur seals sunbathing in the reserve.

It’s a two-hour trip from Wellington but take the time to stop at small boutique townships along the way, including Greytown, known for great food, sophisticated shopping and cute cottages, and Carterton’s very own award-winning Clareville Bakery.

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Kaitoke Regional Park

In less than an hour from Wellington, you can escape the elements and immerse yourself in Kaitoke Regional Park’s ancient rainforest. Nestled at the foot of the Tararua Ranges and featuring 2,860 hectares of lush bush-clad hills, centuries-old rimu, beech forest and rātā, the array of sheltered walks offers everything from river views to an exhilarating swing bridge along the way.

The magnificent natural setting is also home to the magical location Rivendell in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and has six trails ranging in length to suit all abilities.

For well-deserved refreshments afterwards, visit Upper Hutt’s Dough Bakery for coffee or Brewtown, the region’s award-winning destination for craft beer and food.

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Te Ara Piko

If you’re looking to get active outdoors on a winter’s day, the meandering pathway along the edge of the Pāuatahanui Inlet is the ideal spot for walking or biking. Just half an hour’s drive north of Wellington city, the flat, easy track runs through indigenous salt marshes and wetland habitats with stretches of boardwalk and bridges. Along the way there are amazing views of the harbour, as well as the inlet being a great spot for bird and wildlife watching.

For those keen to extend the 45-minute walk, the trails connect to the Camborne Walkway at the western end of the inlet for a longer journey past the colourful, iconic Camborne boatsheds.

Make sure you stop at Pāuatahanui Village's Little Green Olive – the perfect place for coffee at the end of your walk or before your return leg.

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Waikanae River Trail

Escape Wellington’s wintry weather with a trip to Waikanae. In just under an hour by car or a picturesque journey by train, you can be outdoors on the wonderful Waikanae River Trail. Winding along the river beside established willows and young native plantings, the trail is home to many native birds and comes out at the river mouth by the sea. Part of the national Te Araroa Trail, there are longer or shorter loop options, all along wide, gravel paths suitable for wheelchairs and buggies.

You can also opt to carry on to Tutere Street for lunch at Hey Coastie Eatery or Long Beach Café & Tavern.

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