Explore the Eastern cost and hills of the peninsula - Native bush, stunning views, houses dotting the hillsides

Miramar, Nature's bounty

About this Trail

The trail runs from south to north but can also be done in the opposite direction. You can join at a number of entry points instead of doing the whole trail.

This trail is not a loop so if you are part of a group and keen to do the complete length, Rover Tours might be able to help. E: info@rtgl.co.nz / T: 0800 426 211.

Walking time

Three to four hours.

Length

12.7km.

Use

Undulating tracks and stairways with some steep sections and uneven surfaces, as well as flat sealed coastal footpaths. Moderate fitness required.

How to get there

Start at the Tarakena Bay carpark or connect at one of the entry points: Pass of Branda, Seatoun (parking on Mantell or Inglis Sts), Boardwalk at sea end of Ludlam St, Seatoun or Worser Bay

Download the trail brochure here.

START FROM THE SOUTH, WELLINGTON HARBOUR HEADS | TE WHANGANUI A TARA

Tarakena Bay & Atatürk Memorial

Begin your journey at the Tarakena Bay carpark and follow the track to the Atatürk Memorial.

South Island | Te Wai Pounamu

As you climb up to the Memorial, take some time to look back to the south east: if the skies are clear, you will see the mountains of Kaikōura, in the South Island. These often appear snow-covered down to sea level in winter. To the south is Cook Strait | Raukawa Moana, dividing the North and South Islands, and one of the wildest stretches of water in the world.

Native birds

From the Memorial, continue north on the marked track and enter the bush, where it’s hard to believe you are in the capital city of New Zealand! You’ll get panoramic views over the harbour entrance and be surrounded by bird song. Try to spot large Kererū (native woodpigeon) or small darting Piwakawaka (New Zealand fantail). Thanks to Predator Free Miramar and Te Motu Kairangi Miramar Ecolological Restoration, native species are once again thriving on the Peninsula. You might even see a cheeky Tui chasing an insect!

Pencarrow Head and the Wahine shipwreck

Looking across the mouth of Wellington Harbour to the east is Pencarrow Head| Te Raeakiaki and its two lighthouses. This was home to Mary Jane Bennett, New Zealand’s first and only woman lighthouse keeper – and her five children – from 1852 to 1865. Visiting this wild, pristine area is possible from the Eastbourne Regional Park, but it will be for another day

An orange beacon marks the cluster of rocks in the harbour channel called Barrett Reef | Tangihanga-a-Kupe, where the interisland ferry Wahine struck during a huge storm on 10 April 1968. Fifty one people lost their lives, the worst marine tragedy in New Zealand’s history. The Wahine finally sunk near Steeple Rock |Te Aroaro-o-Kupe in Seatoun where attempts were made to salvage it, but later storms broke up the wreck where it lay.

Following the trail through bush then forest will lead you to the Pass of Branda.

WALKING THROUGH A RESERVE OVERLOOKING WELLINGTON HARBOUR| TE WHANGANUI-A-TARA

Oruaiti Reserve and Worser Bay

Oruaiti Reserve and Breaker Bay

On reaching the Pass of Branda, cross the road and climb the stairway to reach the ridge and the ‘Benoit Trail’. On your left, Seatoun extends to the complex and moody foreshore called Kirikiri-tatangi, which is sometimes lazy, sometimes furious, as in a northerly storm. Below to your right is Breaker Bay, a picturesque sandy cove that’s also part of the Oruaiti Reserve. Halfway along, you’ll see its iconic needle eye rock formation.

Fort Dorset

Fort Dorset Heritage Area marks the collection of WWI and WWII defence-related structures on athe coastal escarpment at Point Dorset. It was on this well-positioned natural feature that Māori built Oruaiti Pā in the 17th century.

Wander through the pines and reach a waka sculpture and carved post | pouwhenua, marking the site of the former Oruaiti Pā and village. Other pa dotted the northern ridge of the Peninsula and their fires would have been visible in the night sky from here. Make a quick detour south to the clifftop, offering spectacular views of Breaker Bay and the Wellington Heads: you may see ferries passing by to or from the South Island.

Seatoun Beach | Kirikiri-tatangi

The Trail follows the ridge then descends to Seatoun Beach, a great spot for kite surfing, swimming and kayaking. Steeple Rock, named Te Aroaro-o-Kupe after legenday Māori explorer Kupe who accidentally cut himself here, attracts snorkelers and paua divers. Continue along the coastal path to Marine Parade while taking in the wide and beautiful views of the Peninsula (west) and the Orongorongo Mountains (east). In summer, historic Seatoun Wharf makes a great jumping platform for locals and visitors.

Continue along Marine Parade. You will find Kakariki Road, a foot track zigzaging up the hill between numbers 155 and 159 – a great quick detour for incredible views! Descend back to Marine Parade and continue to Worser Bay Boating Club.

‘TREE HOUSES’ PERCHED IN THE HILLS, ALONG TO THE GEM OF WELLINGTON BEACHES: SCORCHING BAY

Scorching Bay

Worser Bay

This beach is too beautiful to be missed. On a good day, you might even want to have a swim, or just keep going to Worser Bay Boating Club (est.1926). Continue north along Karaka Bay Road.

Karaka Bay

After passing the twin boatsheds and rounding Taipakupaku Point, a pedestrian way climbs steeply on your left. Wellington has a myriad of these delightful hill paths linking streets and houses to main roads. Climb to Tai Paku Paku Road, past houses emerging from the bush.

Scorching Bay

Turn right onto Napier Street, then right again into Pretoria Road. A gentle slope takes you down to Scorching Bay, one of the most iconic beaches in Wellington. Here, treat yourself to a latte or an ice cream from the local café.

An old fortication camp, lost in the forest.

Massey Memorial

WARNING: This section is more rugged than the previous ones. Good footwear is recommended.

From Scorching Bay, continue walking around the bays, heading North. As you reach the back of Mahanga Bay, walk up Fort Ballance Road, to a former coastal artillery battery on Point Gordon. The military buildings were built in 1885, following fears of impending war with Russia. From there, views over Scorching Bay, all the way to Point Dorset are simply unmatched.

Mount Crawford

Next, engage on the trail, leaving the defense site behind and the weather station on your left. Once again, the forest will feel as if you’ve left the city all together. Higher up, on your left, is the top of Mount Crawford, site of the old prison, and host of many community gardens. Here, in the heart of the Capital city of Wellington, you may see some cows grazing! Please don’t disturb them and leave gates as you found them.

Massey Memorial

When the trail forks with other tracks, cross the pasture on your right, down to an old military site. Keep going down, past the site to the fence line, until you can safely walk over using the wooden stairway: you will land on a trail a few hundred meters away from the Massey Memorial. Located at Point Halswell, this mausoleum commemorates William Ferguson Massey, prime minister of New Zealand from 1912 until his death in 1925. The exterior is pale T kaka marble, resting on a base of dark grey Coromandel granite and it was unveiled in September 1930.

You have now reach the Northern tip of the peninsula and almost completed your journey.

By Alana's - originally posted to Flickr as Massey memorial, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7094310

Where the trail ends, an iconic, passionate cove.

Shelly Bay

Opposite the track that took you to the memorial, two trails are going around to the other side of the peninsula. Ignore the one diving down, and track the one following the contour: you will stay in the forest for longer. Eventually, after 10 to 15 minutes of walking, the trail will take on a gentle slope and drop you off at Shelly Bay, a unique bay, at the heart of many passions. This old defence site is now home to a multitude of craft studios and the iconic Chocolate Fish Café.

Shelly Bay

Shelly Bay is the site of a former air force base long military history began with the construction of the Submarine Mining Depot Barracks 1887. The area was then a navy base from 1907 to 1946, when it was transferred to the Royal New Zealand Air Force. The air force base closed 1995. In 2009 the land was handed over to Taranaki Whanui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika as part of a Treaty of Waitangi settlement.

Your journey along the Nature Miramar trail is now complete. We trust you have enjoyed in this iconic part of Wellington.