Our Wellington

News | 4 December 2020

Welly Walks: Views that can't be beat

Brooklyn resident Mel Beirne doesn’t take her neighbourhood for granted.

Brooklyn resident Mel Beirne in her running gear, standing to the right of the Zealandia fence line on the Brooklyn Wind Turbine Route, with hills and the turbine behind her.

Running up to 50km a week, the mother-of-four and school teacher gets to appreciate spectacular views from tracks and trails that are on her back doorstep.

“I can actually get quite emotional because it’s just such a special place. You definitely do feel blessed,” she says.

“It’s hard to find anything that’s really parallel to what we get to see every day. On these tracks you get a lot of bird life which is something to be very grateful for, and you can thank Zealandia for that, along with the Polhill Protectors, who work hard to protect the manu through trapping and restoring our bush with native planting.”

Mel lives near the Brooklyn wind turbine, and frequently uses the Brooklyn Wind Turbine Route as a starting point for her long weekend runs with friends.

“I run with a group of mums. All our kids are teenagers so there’s a lot to discuss – it’s a bit like therapy,” she laughs.

The 6km Brooklyn Wind Turbine Route runs from the top of Aro Street and through the trails, following the blue markers. It takes two hours to walk (one way) and can also be accessed from Ashton Fitchett Drive.

On the walk there’s regenerating bush in Polhill Reserve, great views of the city, and native birds from the nearby sanctuary.

Rain, wind, or shine, Mel and her friends run the marked route and the trails that split off it. Where they go depends on the weather and more specifically on the wind direction.

Brooklyn resident Mel Beirne on the Brooklyn Wind Turbine Route, with her hands on her head, looking out to the misty view of Wellington suburbs and harbour.

From this trail they might head along Barking Emu track to where the old emu farm was, or to the South Coast through Te Kopahou Reserve. They may run to Karori around Zealandia’s predator-proof fenceline, or along Hawkins Hill to the radar dome, perched on the highest peak in Wellington’s southern hills.

“The beautiful thing about the dome is you can walk to that as a destination, or you can head to Tawatawa, south down to Red Rocks, west to Karori, or of course you can go down to the city. You can go in all directions – that’s what I like about it.”

And let’s not forget the remarkable views.

“You can see the entire Wellington region from up there – from Mount Kaukau, to Pencarrow, the harbour, down to Red Rocks and the South Island. It’s a full 360 – amazing!

“The thing about all these tracks is they meet up with other ones so it’s easy to choose your distance, and you don’t always have to come back the way you’ve been.

“And another thing is a lot of these tracks were created by people in our community, in collaboration with Wellington City Council, mainly by a group of dads. So that’s another thing we are really grateful for – our strong volunteer community.”

Mel, who is involved in the Brooklyn Food Group (community gardens) and Predator Free Brooklyn, says the tracks are well signposted and well maintained.

But she does warn people that in wet weather, particularly in winter, the tracks can “turn into a stream” so do take care. She also suggests people on the shared mountain biking track keep their ears free from headphones so they can listen out for cyclists and appreciate the birdsong.

“If you’re doing Brooklyn Wind Turbine Route for the first time just stay on the track. Follow the signposts and you can’t really go wrong.”

A plastic container with yellow lid, which is the Welly Walks treat box, perched on a hillside with Wellington Harbour in the background, and some paper bags filled with coffee beans on top.

Mel, a teacher at Houghton Valley and Brooklyn schools, says exercise and nature is the perfect combo for improving health and wellbeing.

“We are so lucky to have all these trails in Wellington and to live in this place where in less than 15 minutes you can leave the city and be in the middle of nature.”

This is the first story of six in our #WellyWalks series. Hit the Brooklyn Wind Turbine Route from 9am on Saturday 5 December to find the #WellyWalks treats!

Happy walking!