Waikanae River – Loop WalkBy Penny Redward 18th March 2011
This has to be one of Kapiti’s favourite walks and as such is part of the New Zealand Cape Reinga to Bluff Walkway – Te Araroa. Set in a green corridor from the sea to the foothills, there are tracks on both sides of the river, access from numerous locations and a new foot bridge providing varied loop options. With no hills to negotiate it is suitable as training walk/run/bike ride, a picnic outing with the family, a sheltered walk when it’s windy (as if we ever get wind in Kapiti!) or a leisurely stroll.
The river corridor is cared for by many: Greater Wellington Regional Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, Tangata Whenua, Friends of the Waikanae River with John Toplift and others. Restoration planting is well under way and this is now extending into the Estuary.
We began our morning walk on the south bank by the Otaihanga Footbridge, a dull day without a breath of wind. Heading up stream we were soon enjoying the
extensive planting and special “walking only” tracks. Within 50mins we reached Te Arawai – the new footbridge but decided to carry on to the Sh1 bridge. Still no sign of any other human although cockatiels and rosellas greeted us raucously. An open vista across paddocks to the foothills gave us a quick glimpse of traffic on the highway and we were soon trundling over the bridge on the highway – the least exciting portion of the trip.
Once on the north bank we enjoyed a little blackberrying before heading back towards the Otaihanga Bridge. The track is more formal, and there are many more road connections but the planting equally lush and the opportunities for swimming and picnicking abound. We began to meet others – a total of five walkers, and four cyclists so if you really want solitude stay on the south bank and go mid week – can’t promise though.
We did the complete loop in two hours – brisk walking, but allow more and enjoy it. If we had turned at Te Arawai bridge it would have been 1½ hours. There is a new access to the south bank in the pipeline – from the Greendale area – keep a lookout for this.