This short walk zigzags up the escarpment hill, with stunning views across to Kapiti Island and mature kohekohe forest. The loop is a shorter alternative to walking the full Paekākāriki Escarpment Track – but still gives some rewarding views and sense of achievement.
The loop at the top takes you through a forest thick with large kohekohe trees. These flower during May and June. The track is easy and well marked.
Who it suits
This is a straightforward track, but it’s steep in places, so some fitness is required. The track can be slippery in wet weather, especially at the top of the loop. It’s suitable for children aged over 5 years.
Due to the occasionally steep gradient and exposure, people with low fitness or poor balance may find this track difficult. It’s not accessible to wheelchairs or buggies. Bikes and dogs aren’t permitted on this track – or on the neighbouring Escarpment Track.
How long it takes
The full loop takes up to an hour, depending on your preferences for rest and nature-watching. You can also do a shorter version, up to the first or second bench seat for a sit-down with panoramic views.
Wonderful views! This is a good option if you want views without the steps or length of the Escarpment Track. The kohekohe trees, in flower May-June, are well worth seeing – orchid-like white flowers grow directly from the branches and trunks of the trees.
There are plenty of rest spots on the walk. There is a seat with a picnic table at the bottom of the track, just before the turn off to the Kohekohe Track, a shady, sheltered spot. There are two bench seats on the track itself, one right at the top. All offer breathtaking views across the sea and to Kāpiti Island, but there’s little shelter from the wind or rain.
This is a loop walk, which begins 10 minutes’ walk from Paekākāriki train station. From the station, walk south to Paekākāriki village shops, on Beach Road. Cross the track at the crossing beside the Beach Road Deli and turn right along State Highway 1. Walk alongside the highway, taking the detour track to the right which takes you a little way away from the traffic for a few minutes. Back on the highway, you will reach a bridge. On your right are steps going down. Take these, cross under the bridge, and you are at the beginning of the Escarpment Track. The Kohekohe Loop comes off the Escarpment track, on the left, after about 5 minutes.
Alternatively, start from Ames St Reserve at the south (Wellington) end of Ames St. Walk on the left-hand side of the road (to avoid the cars that may swoop in off the highway), and head across the bridge on its footpath. At the other side (north end) of the bridge, duck down to the left – there’s a sign at the top of the steps which head under the bridge, and you’re on the Escarpment Track. This’ll shortly take you to the Kohekohe Loop turnoff.
Transport and parking
If you’re already in the village, consider walking (or biking) from home. It’s an easy walk to reach the track’s start, from anywhere within the village, for those who don’t mind adding to the overall walking time.
If driving, please park at the railway station car park. It’s a short walk (approx 10 mins) from the railway station to the start.
Toilets are located on Beach Road in Paekākāriki Village. You’ll also find the Paekākāriki shops and cafes in this main street of the village, just a 5 to 10-minute walk from the beginning of the track.
- After zig-zagging up the hill, you reach the walk’s second bench. Here you can go either right and up, or left, to walk the full loop. There are orange triangle markers on the trees to indicate the track through the forest. It’s a short – but steep – effort to reach the top. You may hear the sound of cars just above you hurtling down Paekākāriki Hill Road.
- Take water and a jacket, depending on the weather.
- You should get mobile coverage in this area.
A dedicated local group of volunteers, Ngā Uruora – Kāpiti Project, have been working for more than 20 years on native forest restoration, aiming to “bring Kāpiti Island’s dawn chorus back to the Coast”. You can get involved in planting, weeding, or helping to trap pests.
Ngā Uruora traps hundreds of predator species each year, with an extensive trapping network. The group is always looking for more volunteers to help with checking and re-baiting these traps.
To find out how to get involved, take a look at Ngā Uruora and check out their video of the track below.
To complement your walk, read An Artist Waits for the Light by Mercedes Webb-Pullman