Most of the central ridge of the Outer Green Belt skyline was known to local Māori as Te Wharangi (broad open space). Māori crossed Te Wharangi when travelling between Whanganui-o-Tara (Wellington Harbour) and Ohariu. After the arrival of Europeans almost all of the dense forest that covered Wellington’s hills was cleared for sheep and cattle farming.
From 1976 Wellington City Council recognised the need to protect the skyline encircling the outer city suburbs. It proposed creating an outer town belt that would preserve bush-clad hillsides and open spaces on the city’s rural fringes for public recreation.
Map of the Outer Green Belt
In the 1980s the Council began purchasing land for the Outer Green Belt on the ridges above Brooklyn and Karori through to Johnsonville and Churton Park. The Skyline Walkway opened in 2006, allowing people to walk, run or bike up to 12 kilometres from Makara Saddle (on Makara Road) to Ohariu Valley or Johnsonville.
The current vision for the Outer Green Belt is to for it to be: “Wellington’s wild green connector: - it visibly defines the urban edge, protects and restores nature, and enables people to escape the city and explore.” The former 2004 Outer Green Belt Management Plan has just been revised and the new 2019 plan will be published in late 2019.