Sanderson’s Way

The Opening of Sanderson’s Way with Sanderson family members, Nicola Toki (CE, Forest & Bird), Dr. Taku Parai and Karl Farrell (Ngāti Haumia), Kapiti Mayor Janet Holborow, KCDC Councillor Sophie Handford. Photo: Bob Zuur

Lodged between the former State Highway One (SH59)and the railway line at Paekākāriki, where once invasive weeds proliferated, there is now a beautiful, tree-lined track, thanks to the committed efforts of Ngā Uruora and community volunteers. Find out more about the project here.

This walk, renamed Sanderson’s Way in 2023, is part of Paekākāriki’s newly restored Waikākāriki Wetland. The track is named after the late Captain Val Sanderson, founder of Forest & Bird and once a resident of Paekākāriki. Read Judith Galtry’s Captain Sanderson: a visionary among the dunes.

The track was officially opened on 29 April 2023 by Paekākāriki conservation group Ngā Uruora and the Kāpiti-Mana branch of Forest & Bird, as part of F&Bs centenary celebrations. Birds of a feather flock together: Forest & Bird celebrated by Judith Galtry highlights this event .

A sign honouring the work and legacy of Captain Sanderson was also unveiled at the time. 


When the Paekākāriki-Pukerua Bay Escarpment Track was opened, the official Te Araroa route, as part of the walk from Cape Reinga to the Bluff, was accessed via Ames Street. But some Ames Street residents objected to the number of cars parked along their previously quiet street.  

Ngā Uruora trappers knew that between the then SH1 and the railway line there was a rough route from the village to the start of the Escarpment Track. Paul Callister, a key figure in Ngā Uruora for many years, had the original vision for a walkway. At a Paekākāriki Community Board meeting, he gave a presentation calling for this alternative route. The then Community Board chair, the late Phil Edwards, convinced KCDC to establish this alternative walking track. This opened up the possibility for Ngā Uruora to restore the wetland, named Waikākāriki Wetland after consultation with Ngāti Haumia.

Monthly working bees followed. Funding from the Wellington Community Trust enabled some paid weed control and the purchase of plants from Te Rito community nursery.


Who does it suit?

Sanderson’s Way is a straight-forward track requiring very little fitness. It is suitable for almost everyone, including young children and older people, although care needs to be taken with young children at either end of the track where it merges again with the path alongside the old highway. 

The first part of the track nearest Paekākāriki village is accessible for wheelchairs and buggies, but the bridge halfway along is too narrow to allow wheelchair access. 

Bicycles are not permitted on Sanderson’s Way or on the Paekākāriki-Pukerua Bay Escarpment Track to which it connects. Dogs on leashes are permitted on Sanderson’s Way but not on the Escarpment Track.

How long does it take?

Sanderson’s Way can be done as a leisurely walk on its own from Paekākāriki village to the southern end of the track, which comes out near the bridge on the main highway, and back again. From the shops and back, the walk takes around 30 minutes. 

Sanderson’s Way also serves as an access track to both the Paekākāriki-Pukerua Bay Escarpment Track and the Kohekohe Loop Track, which leads off from the Escarpment Track near the Paekākāriki end. Depending on which walk you do, the times will obviously be longer. 

Another good walk, but on flatter ground, is to stroll Sanderson’s Way as part of a circuit to Ames Street Reserve, which leads down to the beach near Fisherman’s Table restaurant, and back to the village along the beach’s southern end. This entire walk should take approximately 40 minutes to one hour, depending on one’s walking speed. 


Sanderson’s Way is a picturesque amble on its own. It also offers a much more pleasant walk through the bush to the start of the Escarpment Track than the alternatives of walking down the old highway or up Ames Street to the bridge on the old highway. Sanderson’s Way is a refreshing summer stroll as its many trees provide ample shade. There is also the cooling stream to look at.

It is inspiring to witness the gradual transformation of a weedy wasteland into native bush. Many plants not seen locally for perhaps over 100 years have been re-established. These include forest plants such as Kahikatea, Swamp Maire, Totara, and wetland plants, including carex secta.

Other highlights include several large Pohutukawa trees at the northern end of the track nearest Paekākāriki village. 

A now rather battered oak tree, which used to be part of the 1906 Homestead’s garden, sits at the northern end of the track. This old homestead, visible on the other side of the old highway, was built by the early settler Smith family. 

An eye-catching sign celebrating the life of Captain Sanderson stands beside a picnic table in a small glade at the northern end of the track. This is worth a visit, including for families with young children and those with prams and wheelchairs, as it is easily accessed from Paekākāriki village. 

Dr Taku Parai and Karl Farrell (Ngāti Haumia), Paul Callister (Ngā Uruora), Dave Johnson (Chair, Paekakariki Museum Trust) with Sanderson family members. Photo: Bob Zuur


The start of Sanderson’s Way is only 10 minutes from Paekākāriki train station. From the station, walk south to Paekākāriki village shops, on Beach Road. Cross the tracks at the crossing beside the Beach Road Deli and turn right along State Highway 59. Walk alongside the highway until you see a sign to indicate the start of Sanderson’s Way to the right, which takes you away from the traffic. 

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, just a 5 to 10 minute walk from the beginning of the track.

At the Railway station, when the Paekākāriki  Museum is open at weekends between 11am and 3pm, there are three accessible toilets.  


  • This is an easy walk if done on its own but keep a close eye on children and dogs (which should be on leashes) so they are not able to access the old highway at any point. 
  • This walk is also close to the railway track. Be aware that trains go past and the sudden noise may give dogs and young children a fright.
  • You should receive mobile coverage in this area.


Forest & Bird founder Captain Val Sanderson planting trees, Kāpiti Island circa 1940. Image Rangi Webber, courtesy of the John Barrett Collection

Read Judith Galtry’s Captain Sanderson: a visionary among the dunes here.