Best wow-factor walks

Time for a change of scenery from your usual walk? Wanting that rare photo-op to impress your Instagram followers? Whatever the reason, here’s some of the Wellington region’s most unique trails with a difference.

Escarpment Track

Get away from the city for one of the best trails Wellington has to offer. Dubbed the “Stairway to Heaven,” the Escarpment Track zigs and zags above State Highway 1 with its challenging but rewarding 1,200 steps. It offers a unique trail experience in the form of swing bridges and spectacular views of Kāpiti Island. Pack the essentials and make a day of this 9km track. Suitable for the whole family, this will be an experience to remember!

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Te Araroa Paekakariki Escarpment Walk_women walking on the swing bridge with stunning view
Te Araroa Paekakariki Escarpment Walk swing bridge
People walking over swing bridge on Escarpment trail
Muritai Park Track people on the track Somes Island and Wlg in the background

Matiu / Somes Island

Leave the car behind and jump on the East by West ferry from Queens Wharf or Days Bay to explore Wellington harbour’s largest island. Discover historic quarantine buildings and gun emplacements dating back to WW2 as you learn about the island’s quirky history. Now a predator-free nature reserve, the family-friendly loop track around Matiu/Somes Island offers 360-degree views of Wellington harbour and plenty of native wildlife.

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Red Rocks / Pariwhero Track

Spending a few hours on Wellington’s wild and rugged South Coast will literally take your breath away with its jaw-dropping scenery. Start your journey at Te Kopahau Reserve near Owhiro Bay and walk along the coastline beneath the dramatic cliffs, as you gaze out towards the ocean and enjoy views of the South Island. See the interesting rock formations up-close and encounter a colony of fur seals in their natural habitat during the winter months.

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Red Rocks Track
Wrights Hill Fortress

Wright’s Hill Loop

Once a World War Two defence post, this vantage point offers unparalleled views of Wellington city and beyond. The Lookout Loop track takes you past historic gun emplacements that still exist to this day, as you walk through the regenerating native forest. This untouched area of the city is also popular for curious native birds visiting from neighbouring Zealandia eco-sanctuary, so keep an eye out as they pop over to say hello. Visit on a public holiday for one of the fortress’ popular community Open Days, where you can explore the underground tunnels and fortifications.

Castlepoint Lighthouse Walk

Take in breathtaking views over the Wairarapa Coast (and pause to upload your pics to Instagram), fossick for fossil shells on the beach below, and revel in the history of one of the country's last remaining beam lighthouses built in 1913.

You may even unexpectedly encounter a colony of fur seals sunbathing in the reserve. This really is one of the most Instagrammable spots in the region and will only take you 30 minutes to walk there and back.

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Castlepoint Wairarapa

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