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Westpac Stadium

Wellington CBD Kelburn



Wellingto Harbour START Oriental Bay


Mt Victoria

of wellington's best runs 35k

maps, photos, trail tips



Newtown Park


Evans Bay


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If you know where to look, the Wellington region is like a giant playground for runners. There are bush clad valleys and exposed hills with incredible views. There are long stretches of uninterrupted coastline and sheltered, sandy bays. There are rural roads snaking through idyllic farmland and urban pathways built with runners in mind. The book you have in your hand is your own personal guide to uncovering the wonders of this runner’s playground. Enjoy.

ISBN 978-0-473-19444-4 First Published September 2011 Trecho Publishing Ltd All rights reserved. Copyright Hayden Shearman 2011 Writing and content: Hayden Shearman Graphic designer: Karl Shearman Printing: Printlink, Petone A catalogue record for this book is available from the National Library of New Zealand.

Disclaimer Although this book has been thoroughly proofed and checked, it may contain errors and inaccuracies in relation to distances, directions and other descriptions. We take no responsibility for any injuries or mishaps that occur as a result of any of these errors or inaccuracies. The maps are to be used only as guides; they are not intended to be perfectly to scale. We also remind readers that they undertake the routes described in this book at their own risk and encourage everyone to enjoy their running but not push themselves too far in one single run when you do not have the people and medical support nearby to offer assistance if you need it.


FROM THE AUTHOR Congratulations for picking up this book! And not just because I think the book is very cool, but most of all because, simply by flicking through its pages, you’re showing an interest in two of my favourite topics: 1) running and 2) New Zealand’s incredible environment. Let me start first with running. Being a typical Kiwi kid, I grew up adoring the stories of New Zealand’s running legends like Snell, Halberg and Walker. So whether I liked it or not, running was in my veins and DNA. I enjoyed running as a kid but only embraced it fully in my 20s when the pressure of life and work demanded that I find a pastime that could be done anywhere, at anytime and with very little gear. Running was obviously ideal. I soon discovered the sheer joy of getting out of the office on a sunny lunchtime or with mates disappearing

Through running I also discovered the endless treasures that the Wellington region has to offer. Soaring hilltops, lush valleys, perfectly quaint farmland, and miles and miles of spectacular coastline … Wellington runners are very spoilt for options. And that’s exactly why I produced this book. We need to know what options are available to us. For years I had never discovered the Tinakori Hill, then one day a friend took me through there and now I’m hooked. In essence this book should act a bit like that friend, showing you new trails and

broadening your mind to visit the less explored parts of our region (some could literally be just over your garden fence). There are many more routes that I could have included in this guide—it could quite easily have been a novel—but rather than overwhelm readers I wanted to provide a good taster for what’s out there, so you’re motivated to do some exploring of your own. I have also endeavoured to provide a wide variety of routes (in distances, terrain and location) to suit runners of all different abilities. Happy running!

Photo courtesy of Rowan Greig

into the hills at the weekends with only some shorts and a t-shirt, some running shoes and a watch. It is sport at its purest. Then I discovered racing and the incredible personal challenge of creating new PBs (which always come when you put the work in) and, in doing so, creating an ever-expanding appreciation for both the mental and physical abilities of elite runners. Of all people, it is Oprah Winfrey who sums up my appreciation for running the best: “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it.”


Hi, I'm Wellington



To See and Do (apart from running)

12 .Wellington Running

Local Running Heroes

Training Hot Spots

Wellington Running Clubs

Wellington Key Races

18 .Running Routes 22



Hutt Valley


Porirua & Kapiti Coast


HI, I'M WELLINGTON The earliest Maori name for Wellington is “Te Upoko o te Ika a Maui”, which means “the head of Maui’s fish”. According to legend, the demi-god Maui, shortly after slowing down the sun, hauled the North Island from the sea like a fish—Welling-

ton’s perfectly-shaped harbour providing the ideal mouth from which Maui could hook his massive catch. And it’s an appropriate analogy given the way Wellington, at times, seems to thrash about (or be thrashed about) amidst ocean and

The view from Mt. Victoria (Wellington photos courtesy of

air, like a fish being dragged from the water. What I mean is that the Wellington region is a place where oceans, land and air converge in a tumultuous combo of wind, hills, raw beauty and change. Being in the latitudinal centre of New

Zealand and spanning three coasts (with the Tasman Sea to the west, the Cook Strait to the southwest and the Pacific Ocean to the southeast), the greater Wellington area rises sharply from the water and,


as a result, has become something of a playground for outdoor enthusiast … especially runners. The hills, and with them the views, are one of the obvious drawcards for runners. These vary in cover from lush native bush and shrubs to farm land and urban areas housing impossibly steep driveways and precariously perched wooden homes. Although limited in number, there are also a few great flat running options, usually along Wellington’s abundant coastlines. So the variety is sure to keep most runners well and truly occupied, with a new trail and new scenery always just around the corner. However, Wellington is not all outdoors. It also has arguably the best inner-city feel of all New Zealand’s main centres with a plethora of cafes, restaurants,

Beehive (Parliament) - Heinz Hubler

museums, art galleries, bars and music venues. Being the nation’s capital also helps to create a sense of added meaning in the air with protest marches or causedriven pieces of street art a common sight. The recent growth of Wellington’s film industry (thanks largely to The Lord of the Rings trilogy) also adds to this cultural feel. Overall, Wellington has so much to offer those who are prepared to explore. And like anything, whether it be finding the best coffee or discovering a new music venue, it often helps to have someone else showing the way. Let this book guide you into some of the many joys and challenges that Wellington has to offer runners of every level.

Aaron Burgess

Geography Wellington itself hugs the inside of a spectacular natural harbour, originally named Port Nicholson. With very few flat areas surrounding this harbour much of the land that is now downtown Wellington rose up from below sea level in an earthquake in 1855. This lack of non-hilly land has made the Wellington CBD, literally, a hive of activity, creating a bigger city feel in what is still only a modest population (200,000 in Wellington itself). The proximity of the hills and the simple fact that they’re often too steep for habitation means that, for the inner city runner, the seclusion of a bush clad hill is never too far away. Sharply rolling hills surround Wellington Harbour with the exception of the Hutt Valley, which stretches to the northeast

via a relatively flat river valley before it meets the base of the Tararua and Rimutaka Ranges. The Hutt Valley is home to about 140,000 people with the two main centres being Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt. Petone and Eastbourne are also popular places for a coffee, restaurant meal or ice cream at the beach. Either side of the Hutt Valley has Regional Parks with networks of trails that almost stretch the entire length of the valley. To the north, Porirua City boasts two harbours and several nature reserves which all provide pleasant vistas for runners with a variety of terrain and running surfaces. Heading even further north, following the Tasman Sea coastline, the Kapiti Coast has long stretches of flat, sandy beach and steep, bushy hills— ideal for a weekend explore.



Cable Car - Nick Servian

Weather Wellington’s wind gusts to over 60 km/h on 173 days each year. So as you can imagine the wind can become both the runner’s best friend (when tailing you into the finishing chute) and worst enemy (on a long Sunday run into the teeth of a vicious southerly). But spend time with a Wellington local and you’ll soon hear them exclaim, “Well, the weather’s not the best today, but you actually can’t beat Wellington on a good day!” There is a certain amount of truth in the saying, for although the good days don’t come too often, when they do occur, the harbour glasses off and turns a deep blue, the cityscape basks in the sun and

Oriental Bay

the hills lure all sorts of adventurers— and you wonder why anyone would even contemplate living anywhere else.

To See and Do (Apart From Running) The first port of call for any visitor to the capital is Te Papa (meaning “Our Place”). It is a very large museum and art gallery on Wellington’s waterfront that can easily consume a good afternoon. From Te Papa it’s an easy stroll (no more than 20 minutes’ walk) to the parliamentary buildings and The Beehive, the Botanical Gardens and the Cable Car, an abundance of good shopping, a legendary coffee culture and thriving local music and arts scene. Mt Victoria (to the southeast of the CBD) provides

Pat Shepherd

panoramic city views and a host of Lord of the Rings filming sites (if you know where to look). At the foot of Mt Vic is Oriental Bay, a stunning inner-harbour, (imported) golden sand beach—perfect

Old Bank Archade - Rob Suisted

(and packed) on a sunny summer’s day. Finally, the Weta Cave in Miramar provides a good insight into Wellington’s booming film industry thanks to the influence of director Peter Jackson.




Photo courtesy of Rowan Greig (Track Meet 4 Chch - Feb 2011)

LOCAL HEROES Wellington has a recent strong heritage of producing quality mountain runners, and when I say quality, I mean three world champs in the last 10 years. Jonathan Wyatt (Olympian and six-time World Mountain Running Champion), Melissa Moon (two-time World Mountain Running Champion) and Kate McIlroy (World Mountain Running Champion ’05 and current professional triathlete) all provide ample proof of the benefits of training in Wellington’s rugged terrain. Of course no Wellington running review would be complete without a mention of the Hutt Valley’s hometown hero, Commonwealth gold and bronze medallist and Olympic silver medallist, Nick Willis. Preferring the more level surface of an athletics track, Nick has continued the great New Zealand middle distance tradition laid out by Jack Lovelock, Peter Snell and John Walker (and so on). He has excelled in the mile and metric mile, the 1500 metres—an event, no doubt, he first discovered as a teenager battling his way into a stiff home-straight headwind at Newtown Park.


TRAINING HOT SPOTS Newtown Park This all weather, mondo track is open to the public for training most of the time (Wellington Football Club and school events occasionally book the park and a key maybe required in winter—see the Newton Public Library or Wellington City Council for details). Mansfield Street, Newtown (next to Wellington Zoo).

Grass Tracks These abound in summer and provide a great alternative to pounding the pavements. And while you’re there, why not try going barefoot? Measured 400m grass tracks can usually be found from November to March at Maidstone Park (Park St., Upper Hutt), Tawa College (Duncan St., Tawa), Petone Recreational Ground (Udy St., Petone), Adventure Park (Discovery Dr., Whitby) and Ben Burn Park (Campbell St., Karori)—check out your local high school for other tracks.

Victoria University An interesting (and super spongy) innercity option is the recently laid all-weather (rubber-based) surface at Boyd-Wilson Field, Victoria University. Access is via Kelburn Pde or from the CBD by

heading straight up Vivian St. and up the stairs at the road end to the park—look for the terracotta-coloured chequered student hostel building. The track has an approximately 360m two-lane running circuit around its circumference, including four tight turns so really not suitable for any speeds below 3-min/km.

Road Courses ■ Trentham CIT circuit is a 2.6km road loop with painted markers every 100m on Messines Avenue, Upper Hutt (look for the start on the south side of Messines Ave opposite the entrance to the military camp). ■ Avalon Park hosts a 3km measured path on the stop bank running parallel to the river with markers every 100m (Fairway Drive, Lower Hutt). ■ The Wellington waterfront footpath, from Queen’s Wharf (Ferg’s Kayaks) to the wind wand (Zephyrometer) at Evans Bay, has small brass markers set into the pavement every 500m (they aren’t perfectly accurate but are a useful guide e.g. the 500m between Freyberg Pool and the Fisherman’s Table is definitely short).

■ Karori Park has a looped limestone path that is a few metres short of a kilometre and is a popular destination for tempo sessions and intervals. ■ Hutt Park (Seaview, Lower Hutt) also has a limestone path along its circumference, however, it only stretches about 800m of the approximately 1km loop with the remainder to be navigated on the grass.

Top-5 CBD Lunchtime Jogs 5. Explore Tinakori Hill 4. Try the single trails of Polhill Reserve in Aro Valley (can loop back along the eastern fence line of the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary) 3. Climb to the lookout atop of Mt. Victoria 2. Lose yourself in the Wellington Botanic Gardens 1. Take a gentle stroll around the bays: Oriental Bay to Balaena Bay and back over Maida Vale Road

CLUB CONTACTS ■ Scottish Athletics (Mt Cook) ■ Wellington Harrier Athletic Club (Mt Victoria) ■ Olympic Harriers (Johnsonville) ■ Hutt Valley Harriers (Lower Hutt) ■ Trentham United (Upper Hutt) www. ■ Hutt Valley Marathon Clinic (Lower Hutt) ■ Wellington Marathon Clinic (Kilbirnie) ■ Kapiti Harriers (Paraparaumu) ■ Karori Athletics (Karori) (targeted particular at children) ■ Kiwi Athletic Club (Newtown) ■ Carterton Athletics (Carterton, Wairarapa) athleticscarterton ■ Masterton Athletics (Masterton, Wairarapa)



WELLINGTON KEY RACES Wellington Round the Bays The largest running event on Wellington’s calendar with lots of hype, spot prizes and entertainment. Starts CBD, following the waterfront to Kilbirnie Park.

marathon options (plus kids’ Magic Mile) Numbers: 4,000+ Target Runner: Casual walkers to national competitive

Date: Sunday, Mid February Distance: 6.7k and half marathon options Numbers: 10,000+ Target Runner: Casual walkers to national competitive

Harbour Capital Marathon Wellington’s main marathon event, with the half marathon the more popular option. Where: Follows the waterfront around the bays from Westpac Stadium to Breaker Bay and back (full marathon). Date: Sunday, late June Distance: 10k, half marathon and full

Capital Classic One of several higher profile track meets around New Zealand that all carry the ‘Classic’ title. Where: Newtown Park Date: January or February Distance: Usually 800m and 3,000m (men and women), plus other athletics events. Numbers: Approx. 100 across all events Target Runner: Regional competitive to elite

The Dorne Cup

The Karori Gutbuster

The premier Wellington interclub cross

A tough approx. 12km (mostly) off-road race largely following the Bird Sanctuary fence line.

country race (mostly flat, grassy surface). Where: Trentham Memorial Park, Upper Hutt Date: Saturday, early June Distance: up to 8km Numbers: about 500 Target Runner: Club affiliated runners of all levels.

Wellington Cross Country Championship A 2km undulating loop track ideal for spectators and runners alike. Where: Waikanae Park, Waikanae Date: Saturday, mid July Distance: up to 12km Numbers: about 400 Target Runner: Club affiliated runners of all levels.

Where: Ben Burn Park, Karori Date: Sunday, March Distance: Full race 11.8km (1 and 3.4km options for kids) Numbers: 200+ Target Runner: Walkers to national competitive mountain runners

Weekly Waterfront 5km Organised by Scottish Harriers in conjunction with a local bar. Where: Queen’s Wharf, Wellington Waterfront Date: Every Tuesday (Aug to April) starts at 5:30pm Distance: 5km (sometimes a 10km option) Numbers: up to 200 Target Runner: Casual walkers to national competitive


RUNNING ROUTES REGIONS Wellington 22 Hutt Valley 45 Porirua & Kapiti Coast 69






Main Run

Alternate Run

Railway Tracks or Tunnel WATER:

Sea or Lake


Urban (Lighter Shades)


Bush / Forest (Darker Shades) ICONS:

Stadium Parking







Dbl Trail at least

Single Trail in parts

Large Hills

Mild Undulations

Mountain Run


Mostly Flat (with some steeper hills)




Eight Kilometres

Various (multiple paths)

Do Not Go in Wind

Caution in Wind

Do Not Go in Rain

Caution in Rain






Wellington Harbour






B Mt Victoria (Tangi Te Keo)


C Makara Loop


D Karori Wildlife Sanctuary Fence Line


E Eastern Walkway


F Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park


G Wellington Botanic Gardens


H Tinakori Hill


I Skyline Track (Johnsonville to Karori)


J Tip Track to Red Rocks


wellington central & SOUTH COAST

the bays On any given lunch hour you’ll find hundreds of feet pounding the well worn pavement of Oriental Bay which marks the start of a stunning 30km coastal, paved route. From Queen’s Wharf in the CBD follow the wide footpath south toward Te Papa and on to Oriental Bay. Approximately every 500m is marked by a round brass plate in the pavement. The markers continue

for 6.5 kilometres to Evans Bay and the Zephyrometer (wind wand). For those out for a longer run, the route continues from here right around Evans Bay to Scorching Bay (the home of a regular summer triathlon series). At Seatoun you leave the waterline, turning right into Inglis St and over the Pass of Branda. After this short climb you’ll descend into Breaker Bay on the south coast. Follow the coastal road to the airport and Lyall Bay, Houghton Bay, Island Bay and Owhiro Bay. The full loop via Happy Valley and Brooklyn is approx. 38.5km (including a decent hill coming home).


(Starting from Queen’s Wharf) 3k = Point Jerningham; 5k = NIWA Centre (Evans Bay); 14.5k = Scorching Bay; 18.5km = Pass of Branda; 23km = Lyall Bay break-wall (end of runway); 27.5km = Houghton Bay Rd; 30.5km = Owhiro Bay (Happy Valley Rd).


A flat and well-paved surface. Opportunity to spot wildlife (birds, fish, blue penguins and even seals on the South Coast) and dip in the sea for a post-run swim/ice-bath (in summer the harbour is always warmer than the South Coast). Regular public bathrooms and drinking fountains. You’re also never too far from a bus stop or pay phone if your journey is cut short.

The Bays - Oriental Parade

Although it thins out once you’re past Evans Bay, the traffic is generally a constant companion and gets a little too close for comfort between Evans and Scorching Bays and Breaker and Lyall Bays where footpath and road combine. Much of the trail is very exposed to the wind (don’t be alarmed if you are brought to a standstill occasionally!).

Westpac Stadium

Wellington Harbour

Wellington CBD



Oriental Bay


Mt Victoria


Scorching Bay




Evans Bay

Newtown Berhampore


Newtown Park



Inglis St

Happy Valley


Breaker Bay

Lyall Bay

Island Bay


Owhiro Bay 30k 0





central wellingtoN

Mt Victoria Tangi Te Keo One of the many peaks that dominate Wellington’s skyline, Mt Victoria is probably the most frequented by runners. Just two kilometres southeast of the CBD it has many entry and exit points, perfect for incorporating some hills into your run and/or checking out the panoramic view from the top.

tracks that intertwine around the western side of the hill. On the southern face, trails can be found on both sides of Alexandra Road, each are short and will quickly lead back to a road but it’s worth a good explore. You can carry on following trails on the south side of Constable Street which can take you past the Zoo all the way to Houghton Bay.

At 196m high it rises sharply from Oriental Bay in the North, from the suburb of Mt Victoria in the west and Evans Bay in the east. Its southern face tapers off slowly with an easy gradient road (Alexandra Road) to Newtown’s Constable Street. Bush-covered trails snake their way around the sides of the hill with many undulations and some steep climbs. Grass Street, off Oriental Parade, is a good place to start where you’ll find a steep track up to

Great for getting out of the wind, catching the views and escaping traffic. Some nice and soft pine needle-covered trails. A great place to boost fitness levels on the hills.

Palliser Road. From here you can either go straight up to the summit lookout or turn right and follow one of the several

For newbies it is easy to get lost and most of the tracks are short, intersecting other tracks almost every 200m. Watch for roots!



e Tc bridg





k Loo



Mt Victoria Lookout (196m)




Bowling Club


e St

Wellington East Girls College Alexandra Park


Wellington College

u Rd










Basin Reserve






Balaena Bay


ks S

t Tc











ss S

Hay St

Wellington CBD

Maida Vale Rd

Oriental Bay Oriental Pde


l Pd



Mt V

ic Tu




Wellington Hospital

yP Ba ns

Evans Bay






Hataitai Park


Mein S



ble St






Mt Victoria

Northwest of Wellington City

MAKARA LOOP Where Auckland has the Waiatarua Circuit, Wellington has the Makara Loop, having been the breading ground for Wellington distance runners for decades. It has enough changes in terrain to keep you interested and winds its way through a string of quant farms and mellow Wellington suburbs.

START POINT The loop can be started at any point, but the usual meeting spots are either Karori Park, Karori Fire Station, Wilton Bush, Ngaio Station or Johnsonville.

PART ONE | SUBURBIA Starting from Wilton Bush car park (cnr of Blackbridge Rd and Churchill Dr) head north on Churchill Drive. This is the main road that links Wellington’s northern suburbs through to Johnsonville. It changes name frequently (Waikowhai, Khandallah, Cockayne, Box Hill, Burma and then Moorefield) but it is relatively easy to follow your nose to Johnsonville. At the Johnsonville roundabout intersecting Moorefield and Johnsonville Roads and SH1 turn left and then left again just after the next roundabout on to Ironside Road, and your first major climb. It pays to take it easy up this one, bearing in mind what is to come. Photo courtesy of Grant Mclean (from Scottish Athletics’ On the Run magazine)



Part Three | Test and Reward

becomes Ohariu Valley Road and leads you into the countryside with a change from the incline to a gentle descent— you can really start rolling down here. Carry on for 3km to the intersection with Rifle Range Road where you go straight on to Takarau Gorge Road. For the following 8kms you’ll wind through a valley of quiet farmland and the odd pine tree plantation (look out for a farming shed

With 8km to go the road zigzags up to the

on your right at about 15km for a drinking stop, on a post near the road). Follow your nose on to Makara Rd (be sure not to turn right but to follow the signs to Karori here). This will eventually take you past Makara School (and a welldeserved drink stop) and then all the way back to suburbia and Karori, but not without one final test of your endurance.

elevation MAKARA LOOP

plateau of Karori, rising 200m in about 2km (which at this stage of the run will definitely be felt!). After a quick descent to Karori Park the road is undulating (net downhill) back to Wilton Bush. The final turns you need to make are right at the fire station on to Chaytor St, then left on to Curtis Rd (past Ian Galloway Park and the cemetery). Curtis becomes Wilton Rd and brings you home 34 long kilometres later. Have a chocolate bar or energy drink waiting in the car—you’ll need it and will have deserved it! Will gain you boasting rights amongst any Wellington runner and will surely work every little muscle fibre in your body (including your head).

meters above sea level vs kilometers











30 KM

a great place to have that niggling injury

to rescue you here. Also watch out for traffic on the country roads.

suddenly flare up on you; poor phone

Recommended Pack some water,

reception, no bathrooms, few water

some high-energy food (fuel bar) and electrolyte replacement.

Makara Rd is not

fountains and certainly no bus stops







Ohariu Bay Johnsonville

Makara Beach

Johnsonville Park


Broadmeadows Khandallah 5k Park




Huntleigh Park Crofton Downs

Makara Ian Galloway Park


Karori Park


Kaiwharawhara Wadestown


Wilton Bush and Otari Native Botanic Garden

Westpac Stadium Town Belt Botanic Gardens

30k Highbury


Wellington Harbour

Wellington CBD


Runner's Guide to Wellington  

Sample of the Runner's Guide to Wellington

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