Four challenging day walks for summer
The Kāpiti Coast has more than 50 tracks and trails to offer everyone looking for some outdoor adventure. From beginners to experienced trampers - there are walking trails for all levels.
Ōtaki Gorge may be out of action for the time being - but here are four alternative walks that will get your legs burning this summer!
1. Kapakapanui Hut Track
400 Ngatiawa Road, Waikanae
12KM, 6-8 hours | SUITABLE FOR: WALKING
This is a challenging but enjoyable track on the edge of the Tararuas. Great for keen trampers looking for a full-day walk or those who choose to stay overnight in the Kapakapanui Hut.
It begins with multiple stream crossings so be prepared to get your feet wet right at the start. This river is not able to be crossed after heavy rain so plan your trip well. Pro tip: you could even pack some tramping sandals to change into, and then tie them to your pack to dry for the return trip later on.
After about one kilometer from the start of the track you will reach the loop turnoff. Here, you can choose to go left (clockwise) to reach the Hut that opens out to a flat meadow good for a picnic lunch, and then continues on to reach the summit where you will get extensive views of the Southern Crossing and the Kapiti Coast. You can then continue back in a clockwise direction to the carpark. This route is steeper and so it may be more enjoyable to walk in an anti-clockwise direction where you will reach the summit first and then the Hut shortly afterwards. The track is steep and challenging in places, requires some scrambling up roots, but is well-marked.
A highlight between the hut and the summit is the Goblin forest - an enchanting section of the track with stunted, moss covered trees that aren’t to be missed.
2. Pukeatua Track
14KM, 6-7 HOURS | SUITABLE FOR: WALKING
A tough section of the Te Araroa trail between the Ōtaki Forks and Mangaone South Road (Rikiorangi). This trail is a mixture of 4WD track, pine forest, native regenerating bush and stream crossings. You can start at the Mangaone South Road carpark on the Mangaone walkway and then take a right onto the Pukeatua track. You can follow this trail all the way to Ōtaki Forks but while there is currently no access out of Otaki Forks, you must turn around and walk the track back again, or alternatively go as far as the summit and then return to the starting point.
The area adjacent to the pine forest is private land covenanted with the Queen Elizabeth II National Trust to preserve native forest. Walkers are required to respect the protected area and stay on the marked track (blue poles).
For access to the track park your car at the Mangaone South Rd carpark.
A toilet is provided at the Mangaone South Rd entrance.
3. Te Au Track
133 Huia Street, Waikanae
5KM, 3-4 hours | SUITABLE FOR: WALKING
Begin on Huia Street and climb up the grassy trail and walk through dense native bush into the Hemi Matenga reserve. You will follow a steep, rough and bumpy track with plenty of roots so watch your step and it may be tricky if the ground is wet. Follow the orange track markers that are frequently placed along the trail.
Eventually you will reach the Parata track lookout (summit) and you can then continue on this track to finish in Waikanae on Tui Cresent and walk the 2km back to your car at Huia Street.
The Waikanae train station and bus stop are within 1km from the Tui Cres end of the trail. There are public toilets in Waikanae town centre at the train station and plenty of lovely cafes to get food and a coffee from, such as Relish Café on Elizabeth Street.
4. The full Escarpment experience
Combine these three popular walks for a 17km weekend challenge!
Paekākāriki Escarpment Track
9.1km | Suitable for: Walking
Take in spectacular views of Kāpiti Island from high above the Kāpiti Coastline on one of the region’s finest walking experiences.
The Paekākāriki Escarpment Track runs from Paekākāriki to Pukerua Bay, taking in sweeping views of the spectacular Kāpiti Coastline and the region’s famous Kāpiti Island.
Queen Elizabeth Park: Te Ara o Whareroa
6km | Accessible. Suitable for: cycling, walking
Paekākāriki - Raumati South
Te Ara o Whareroa is an easy 6km trail that traverses the dunelands of the Kāpiti Coast. The trail extends from Queen Elizabeth Park all the way through to Tilley Road in Paekākāriki. It can be joined from various locations along the way, including from Wellington Road, Whareroa Beach and Raumati South. This popular shared route is used by locals for recreational walking and biking.
Queen Elizabeth Park has an array of trails to suit all types of activity. The Inland track, Whareroa Stream Loop and Yankee Trail are shared pathways for walking, cycling and horseriding.
Mataihuka Walkway (Raumati Escarpment)
33 Waterfall Rd, Paraparaumu
2km | Suitable for: walking only. Bikes and horses are prohibited.
Enjoy extensive coastal reviews and regenerating native bush on this short, and steep in places, walk. Access the Mataihuka Walkway via the Raumati Escarpment Reserve - 0.5km up Waterfall Road off SH1.
From the car park on Waterfall Road, follow the track 15mins up to the June Rowland lookout. Continue along the ridgeline to the stone cairn. Return along the same route.