It’s about my favourite run a five minutes drive from home. It allows me to switch off completely, especially after a day at work. Now after that introduction, you wonder how that run manages to do this? Well… 😉 Imagine many years ago I would have had to take the boat to go running there!
Following the track, you are exposed to a different view every minute you go ahead. Through native, dense bush, with views over Cook Strait, the harbour and Evans Bay, the airport, until the track opens to Seatoun, back passed by cute little houses along the bays, watching out for the little blue penguin (korora), and more native plants. Not to forget historic sites and Lord of the Rings scenery!
Starting point of the Eastern Walkway Loop is Tarakena Bay, just downhill by the Ataturk Memorial. The Memorial commemorates Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, defender of Gallipoli and first president of modern Turkey. The memorial, funded by the Turkish government, was dedicated in 1990. The site was chosen because of its physical resemblance to Anzac Cove in Gallipoli. Beneath the memorial is a container of soil from Anzac Cove.
From the car park or Memorial, run uphill following signs of Pass of Brenda, through forest, with spectacular views over Cook Strait. On the summit, enjoy the views over Evans Bay and the airport and then descend through more open territory until you reach Seatoun.
An extension of the run via Point Dorset is worthwhile. There is an old Māori settlement, Oruaiti Pa, one of the old Rangitane stockaded villages of past centuries. Prior to being interfered with, the ridges showed many levelled hut sites, sufficient to accommodate about 50 huts.
There is also the story of Kupe, a legendary Polynesian explorer who was credited with the discovery of New Zealand. Turanga-o-Kupe is the place where Kupe stood after landing at Seatoun. Steeple Rock or Ure-o-Kupe means Kupe’s penis or “the front of Kupe”, which I guess is kind of the same. He got injured there while swimming (I’m not so sure if I understood where? 😉 ).
In Kupe’s time Miramar was an island named Motu-kairangi (Miramar island), entirely hilly and without any fringing flat land or broad beaches at Seatoun or elsewhere. The island was isolated from the main landmass by a shallow channel called Te Awa-a-Taia. In 1460 a severe earthquake raised the island to form the peninsula. Maori renamed this Whataitai. Another earthquake in 1855 caused a second uplift which created the peninsula we see today.
Point Dorset is also worthwhile visiting if you are into Lord of the Rings. The first scenes to be filmed in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy were in and around Bree and The Prancing Pony Inn. The town was constructed on parts of Fort Dorset where filming took several nights and the use of “water makers” gave the illusion of a rainy night in Bree. At the completion of filming the set of Bree was destroyed.
On the way back via Breaker Bay (named for the southerly swells that break on its exposed coastline), enjoy the sea breeze, watch the cute houses and be prepared to spot a little blue penguin.
When you drive back home after the run, you can see a sculpture on the left hand side around Moa Point, an accumulation of rocks or whatever you may associate the sculpture with. Indeed, this sculpture remembers the time when locals called the area ‘Poo Point’. Before a wastewater treatment plant was built at Moa Point, Wellington’s raw sewage was piped straight into the sea. Anyway. Climb it and enjoy the view of the Cook Strait, the South Island and Pencarrow lighthouse on the other side of the harbour’s entrance.