A walk for every mood
These top 20 trails offer unbeatable views, and most are only minutes from the city centre. Whatever your mood, there's a walk for you – whether you're after a relaxing wander through our parks and gardens or keen for a more challenging hike around the coast.
Get the map
Wellington Walks webmap or Ara Rēhia o Pōneke webmap
Wellington Walks brochure (3.1 MB PDF) or Ara Rēhia o Pōneke (3.1 MB PDF)
Pick a Wellington Walk
1. Wellington Botanic Garden (avg. 30min, range from 10min-2.5hr)
Enjoy surprises and views around every turn. Wellington Botanic Garden hosts exotic forest, native bush, floral displays and themed gardens that will inspire your gardening at home. Bring a lunch and make it an outing, or escape from the office for a quick break. Join the trails together to see all the sights.
Wellington Botanic Garden
2. Otari-Wilton's Bush (avg. 30min, range from 10min-2.5hr)
Choose from a range of trails – 30 minute loops or more challenging bush walks – in New Zealand’s only botanic garden dedicated solely to native plants. See plant collections from across New Zealand, head deeper into the bush to stand amongst the city’s only remaining original native forest, or spot the wildlife from the canopy walkway.
The 4.5km Skyline Loop Walk is steep and challenging in places, suitable for those with good fitness.
3. Matiu/Somes Island Loop Track (2-3 hrs)
Take the ferry to explore this emerald jewel in the middle of Wellington’s harbour (after a biosecurity check!). This pest-free island is a haven to many threatened native species such as kākāriki, tuatara, and giant wētā thanks to the restoration work there. You might also spot some little penguins! Good quality tracks give you access to most parts of this scientific and historic reserve. Open daily.
Matiu/Somes Island Loop Track - Department of Conservation (DOC)
4. Wrights Hill Loop (45min-1.5 hr)
Check out the Wrights Hill WWII military fortress and take in the views of the city and sea. Head into regenerating native bush to spot rare native birds that have spread from neighbouring Zealandia. Choose between two loop walks – the longer Lookout loop walk, or the shorter Salvation Bush walk. Mostly sheltered but exposed in some places.
Wrights Hill Loop
5. Eastern Walkway and Loop (2hr)
Enjoy sweeping views from the ridgeline looking out over the south coast of Miramar Peninsula while walking through native bush. At Pass of Branda, loop back with a stroll along the coastline or add on your own journey around Oruaiti Reserve and Fort Dorset. Steep and exposed in places. Note: Breaker Bay is popular with nudists.
Eastern Walkway and Loop
6. Te Ahumairangi Hill Loop (1.5-2hr)
Get on top of Wellington’s central city at Te Ahumairangi. Climb through regenerating native bush and historic pine plantations for breathtaking views. Steep in places.
Te Ahumairangi Hill Loop
7. Te Ara o Nga Tupuna (2hr)
Step back in time and follow the footsteps of the first people to live in Wellington along the harbour and coastline. Walk the Trail of our Ancestors from Pipitea Pā to Te Aro Pā and Waitangi Park, stopping to learn the history of the land and the people at nine different marked stations along the walk.
Te Ara o Nga Tupuna Heritage Trail (4MB PDF)
8. Brooklyn Wind Turbine Route (2hr)
Be blown away on this route. Explore regenerating bush in Polhill Reserve and take in the best views of the city. This route is popular with mountain bikers, runners, and native birds from nearby Zealandia. From the top of Aro Street follow Transient, Sawmill, Fenceline and Windmill tracks uphill to complete the route at one of Wellington’s best loved views!
Brooklyn Wind Turbine Route
9. Mount Victoria Lookout Walkway (1.5hr)
Start from the city and climb through historic pine forests to reach one of Wellington’s must-see panoramic views. The climb can be steep, but it’s worth it for the lookout at the top. Watch the ferries make their way into the harbour as the sun rises, or try to spot the different Wellington suburbs as the sun sets. Continue the loop down to return to Oriental Bay.
Mount Victoria Lookout Walkway
10. Red Rocks Coastal Walk (2-3hr)
Experience the wildest part of Wellington’s rugged south coast. Meet the seals in winter just beyond Red Rocks (Pariwhero) at Sinclair Head – but don’t get too close! This easy-grade, flat track will take you along the coast from Owhiro Bay Quarry, past a small group of historic baches built in the early 1900s, and out to Devil’s Gate at Sinclair Head. 4WD track is closed to vehicles every Sunday. Exposed during southerly winds.
Red Rocks Coastal Walk
11. Khandallah Park Loop (Mount Kaukau) (3hr)
Climb to the top of Mount Kaukau for favourite views of Wellington hilltops and harbour. Climbing up hills and steps through original native bush, make your way to the peak, then complete the loop travelling down along the Skyline Walkway. Check out the kōura (freshwater crayfish) in the stream! Steep in places.
Khandallah Park Loop
12. Makara Walkway (3-4hr)
Walk on Wellington’s wild western coastline for fabulous views of Mana, Kāpiti Island and the South Island. Check out the massive wind turbine, historic pā site and the gun emplacements. The area is exposed, and the track is steep in places. Best accessed at low tide.
13. Southern Walkway (4.5hr)
Get the best views of the city from Wellington Harbour to the south coast. Walk from Oriental Parade to Island Bay through the city's parks and suburbs. This track can be completed in stages and can easily include the Mount Victoria lookout on the way. Allow 30 minutes to return by bus. Steep in places.
14. Northern Walkway (5-6hr)
Walk from Raroa Station to the Wellington Botanic Garden to take in spectacular 360° views of the city, harbour, mountain ranges and sea. Discover abandoned tunnels and the city’s oldest reserve. Steep in places, and can be done in stages. Allow 1 hour to return by bus or train.
15. Skyline Walkway (5-6hr)
Travel along Wellington’s ridge tops through the Outer Green Belt from Makara Saddle to Johnsonville via Mount Kaukau. This track is also used by mountain bikers and can be challenging. The ridgeline is exposed and weather conditions can be extreme. The route can be completed in stages. Allow 1 hour to return by bus or train.
16. City to Sea Walkway (6-7hr)
See the best of Wellington walking from the heart of the city near Parliament to Island Bay. Trek up and down ridges, through bush, parks and concrete jungle alike, to the sweeping South Coast 12km away. The walk is no simple stroll and requires a good level of fitness to complete in one day, but can be done in stages. If you want to start in Island Bay, you can flip the route and walk sea to city. Allow 30 minutes to return by bus.
City to Sea Walkway
17. Te Ara Paparārangi (1.5hr)
Take in arguably the best views of Wellington Harbour on this easy, all-ages walk along the Harbour Escarpment from Waihinahina Park, Newlands. Enjoy the tranquillity of the native old-growth and regeneration forest in Gilberd Bush Reserve and stop at viewpoints along the way to drink in the views.
Allow 30 minutes return via streets.
Te Ara Paparārangi
18. Wind Turbine to Red Rocks Route (3-4hr)
Start at the Brooklyn Wind Turbine and head from the hilltops across Polhill and Te Kopahou Reserve down to Red Rocks. Highlights of this challenging route include spectacular 360° views of the city, harbour, mountain ranges and the sea. Start at the Wind Turbine car park, and follow Windmill, onto Car Parts Ext, to Barking Emu. Connect onto Red Rocks Track to take you down to the coast. Return to Owhiro Bay via Red Rocks Coastal Walk.
Wind Turbine to Red Rocks Route
19. Redwood Bush Loop (1hr)
Explore old growth tawa and podocarp forest on this trail. Walk for an hour through the towering forest and find impressive mataī and rata before heading back in a loop. Head from Brasenose Place through forest, across Peterhouse Street, and head back via Oriel Avenue or return the way you came. Keep your eyes peeled for holes in trees which are favoured wētā hangout spots, or kererū on the hunt for purple berries falling from the tawa. For a bit extra, you can head up to the ridge above Brasenose Place for great views over northern Wellington.
Redwood Bush Loop
20. Johnston Hill Loop (1hr)
From the top of Hatton Street in Karori, follow the track up through the regenerating podocarp/tawa and kohekohe forest. Head to the summit for panoramic views, then complete the loop track to the car park.
Johnston Hill Loop