The Wainui Stream Walk is one of the quiet treasures of the lower North Island. At Paekākāriki’s northern edge, it allows an easy escape into bush and solitude, without straying far.
Tree-lined, sheltered and shady, the short walk offers opportunities to easily connect with nature. It’s a popular place for school field trips and spontaneous fish-spotting adventures. Resident eels are a star attraction, just to the west of where the stream track meets Te Ara o Whareroa cycleway.
Who it suits
This track can be enjoyed by everyone. Though much of the pathway is a bush track, its flat gradient is suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs (except after the heaviest rain).
How long it takes
To walk in one direction along the stream takes 10-15 minutes – but allow longer to find the eels or stop to enjoy the beautiful native bush. So all up: it takes 30 mins or more return.
The stream, which normally runs clear, teems with eels (tuna) near its eastern end. You might see some local children down the bank, or knee-deep in the water, cajoling the eels to emerge.
It can be easier to spot other native fish at night, but you may see fish in daytime if you approach the stream quietly. With patience and luck you may occasionally spot the giant kōkopu. Other native fish species are also resident: kōaro, īnanga and red-finned bully (New Zealand’s most colourful fish).
The trees are wonderful – mostly recent arrivals, carefully chosen to attract and sustain birdlife, including kereru. Standout species include kōwhai, pōhutukawa, kohekohe, titoki, karaka, manuka, ake ake and Norfolk Island pine. Signs are provided along the way to point out tree species and tell the story of the local tuna (eels).
The stream is a special place and tāonga for Ngāti Haumia, the local hapū in Paekākāriki. As you wander along, you can imagine what this area used to be like. Wainui means big water and though today the stream is fairly small, in earlier centuries it was a hefty river. The massive 1855 Wairarapa earthquake caused uplift in the Kāpiti region, transforming this waterway into the (usually) quiet, gently-flowing stream you see today.
Both ends of the track start in parkland (see access details below). From Wellington Road you start at a picnic area in Queen Elizabeth Park. At the Tilley Road end, you begin beside two sports fields and continue over an arched footbridge across the stream, lined with water celery and bordered by a beautiful flax stand or pa harakeke.
You can link up with other tracks from here
- Beach addition: Follow the stream all the way to the sea and add a beach wander to your walk (there’s a short track ducking into the bush off Wellington Road, just beyond the bridge over the stream.)
- Horse Track loop walk: From the Wellington Road entrance, follow Wainui Stream eastwards (towards the hills) and continue over the arched bridge to the Tilley Road entrance. Head to the right along a grassy track, known to locals as the Horse Track, which takes you back to Wellington Road.
- For a longer stroll, connect the Wainui Stream walk with either the Coastal Track (off Wellington Rd entrance), Inland Track or Te Ara o Whareroa (both near the Tilley Road entrance).
This trail is easy to get to by foot, train or car.
- By train: Walk from Paekākāriki station to the village’s north end – the end of either Tilley or Wellington Road (about 1 km).
- By car: Drive from the village shops to the end of Wellington or Tilley Road – take your time (Paekākāriki’s winding roads suit a laid-back pace). There’s more parking at the Wellington Road end.
- Tilley Road entrance point: Simply walk from the end of Tilley Road – there’s a map and an obvious marked pathway (Te Ara o Whareroa) heading towards the stream. This is the cycleway that goes to Raumati South. Veer left at the Yankee Trail sign about 100 metres past the bridge (keep following the stream).
- Wellington Road entrance point: The trail starts on the right-hand side of the road, just over the bridge with blue Queen Elizabeth Park railings (past Paekākāriki Holiday Park, opposite where the road turns left to the beach). If driving, head just past this spot and turn right at the Yankee Trail sign (by picnic area number 7).
Toilets are available at the Wellington Road entrance.
Food and drink
There are options for purchasing food and drink in Paekākakāriki, Queen Elizabeth Park (limited) and Raumati South. On Beach Road, Paekākāriki, there are two cafés, a pub, a fruit shop and a dairy. These are all about 1.5km south from the Wellington Road entrance to Queen Elizabeth Park.
- The stream’s water is unsafe to drink. Hands should be washed after contact with the water.
- At times, Greater Wellington Regional Council puts up signs warning people not to swim – like many New Zealand waterways there are concerns about the water quality. It’s best to take the warning seriously as there have been some examples of children becoming ill after playing in this stream.
A community-based environmental group, Friends of the Streams, does a sterling job of looking out for this stream. Volunteers weed, plant, carry out informal monitoring, and advocate to local and central government on issues of water quality.
To compliment your walk, read Maria McMillan’s poem, The Creek