We’ve lived in Wellington now for going on 8 years, so you’d think we’d have pretty much explored all of it by now, wouldn’t you? We’ve even spent time in Upper Hutt! But so far, Wainuiomata has remained a mystery to us.
Wainuiomata is technically part of Lower Hutt, but it’s in that hinterland inland from Petone and Eastbourne. “What goes on there?”, we wondered. There is a Scenic Reserve, recreation area, and also the Rimutaka Forest Park. We headed to the scenic reserve first, as it sounds scenic.
“How do we get in? There’s no paths marked.” Indeed there weren’t. We found a sign, at the end of the oddly-named Hair St, and what looked like a pathway in, but it petered out in a matter of yards after crossing a rivulet. We turned around and went back to the car. “OK, let’s try the recreation area instead”. We’d spotted a sign to this on the way, so went back and found, eventually, a car park and an information booth. This looks a bit more like it!
We thought we’d take the Gum Tree loop walk, which we were informed was a one hour round trip. But even stopping to admire scenery and trees, and take pictures, we were at the point where it rejoins the main road within 25 minutes, so decided that the suggested times on the map were for folk far less crepit than we. We decided to crack on up to the lower dam.
The lower dam area is a wetland with some rather unprepossessing ducks and a lone cormorant on it. The signs around us informed us all about the wildlife (other than ducks) which also lived in the area, but it must have been hiding. After learning the history of the place, and its current regeneration, we set off back down the road, where we heard and saw tui, kereru and waxeyes, one of which was wrestling with an insect almost as big as itself.
The park is actively pest-controlled, and parts of it are also off-bounds to dogs. This is to encourage the local kiwi population to recover, which, by degrees, it is doing.
Adventure complete, we resolved to return to tackle the Rimutaka Forest Park on another occasion. We drove back to Wellington, and rewarded ourselves for our exertions with lunch at Hataitai’s premier eatery, Bambuchi, which gets another thumbs up from me.