A day at Pencarrow
The journey to Eastbourne’s Pencarrow Lighthouse by bike or by foot makes for a memorable day out
The Pencarrow trail starts from the end of Muritai Road/Burdan's Gate, Eastbourne (look out for the Wildfinder kiosk if you are hiring a bike).
It’s about a 40-minute drive from Wellington to the clearly signposted start of the trail. Or catch the number 83 bus to the Eastbourne bus terminus, then walk for five minutes to the road end. If you have your own bike, you could take the 30-minute East by West Ferry trip from Queens Wharf to Days Bay. Then ride 7km along the coastline to Burdan’s Gate. Timetables are available from Metlink and East by West Ferries.
Then, if you need to hire a mountain bike or e-bike for your adventure, head to Wildfinder Pencarrow, conveniently located right next to the start of the trail.
Discover the wild coastline
Begin your bike ride or walk along this rugged stretch of coastline that leads to Pencarrow Head and New Zealand’s first permanent lighthouse.
Starting at Burdan's Gate, just south of Eastbourne, you’ll pass rocky beaches, rock pools and fishers as you meander along a flat winding trail, a return trip that takes 1.5 hours by bike or four hours return on foot.
Once you reach Pencarrow Head take the side trail, climb up the hill, stand alongside the historic Pencarrow Lighthouse and soak up spectacular views over the Wellington Harbour entrance and across Cook Strait to the Kaikoura ranges.
The lighthouse itself has a fascinating story to tell - not only was it the country’s first permanent lighthouse, it was also home to its first and only female lighthouse keeper Mary Jane Bennett.
Continue past the lighthouse for another 2km and you’ll reach the shores of Lake Kohangatera where you’ll discover indigenous waterfowl, eels and freshwater fish in their natural habitat.
Refuel and re-energise
It’s worth taking the time to venture a little further past Lake Kohangatera to Pencarrow Lodge, which is open to bikers and walkers on Sundays between 12-4pm (bookings essential).
Enjoy gourmet platters of locally-sourced treats, coffee, wine or beer while soaking up the atmosphere and taking in views of the Wellington Harbour entrance, Cook Strait and Kaikoura ranges from a different perspective.
Still have energy to burn?
Once you’ve finished the trail head into Butterfly Creek, which lies in a peaceful valley just over the hills behind Eastbourne.
It’s a popular walk through native bush with several access points and varying times and distances.
Kōwhai Street Track in Eastbourne is the easiest and most direct route, the wide and well-maintained zigzag trail offering great viewing spots across Eastbourne and Wellington Harbour along the way.
About 1km along the track you’ll come to a junction where you can choose to take a longer return route via MacKenzie Road Track. Alternatively, you can continue straight along the trail for 15 minutes to the Butterfly Creek picnic area (allow two hours for the return trip).
Relax and unwind
Take a short drive, bike or bus ride back through Eastbourne to the sunny seaside settlement of Days Bay, where you can sit back and watch the sunset while enjoying food and drink from Sea Salt Café and Eatery.
Alternatively, devour a wood-fired pizza and icecream from Days Bay Pavilion.
NOTE: Ensure you take food, water, warm clothing and sunscreen - there are no facilities along the trail. Also take a jacket as it can be windy!
Ready to start your trail adventure? Join the Find Your Wild - Wellington Regional Trails Facebook Group, share your adventure and go in the draw to win one of five staycations around the Wellington region.