Neighborhood Adventures

The great part about living in Karori is our proximity to so many trails. I suppose the same can be said for most places in Wellington (and New Zealand, for that matter), but I’m a little biased. The Fenceline Trail is about 15 minutes from our doorstep. So are the winding paths of Otari-Wilton’s Bush and Karori Cemetery, both immensely peaceful spots to explore. Even the lengthy Skyline Trail can be reached in less than 30 minutes, with many different ascents to choose from.

The weekend before last, Higgs and I set out one afternoon with no particular trail in mind. Well, I don’t know what Higgs had in mind, but he has to go along with the one holding the leash. We set out in the direction of Otari-Wilton’s Bush via Karori Cemetery. On the way, we traveled down Old Karori Road, which was closed to cars in 1988. Its overhanging trees make it a beautiful shortcut.

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Since most trees in New Zealand don’t change in autumn, I’ll take any foliage I can get.

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Soon after, we came upon Karori Cemetery. Established in 1891, it’s Wellington’s second largest burial ground and home to many notable citizens. One of the explorers from Ernest Shackleton’s voyage is buried there, his grave easily identifiably by the memorial to his cat, who sadly had to be left behind in the Antarctic. Higgs thought it was a real cat the first time he encountered the stone feline.

I love wandering the overgrown paths of the cemetery. It seems right, in a way, for nature to be reclaiming the older graves. I can’t think of a more peaceful spot to be laid to rest.

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Occasionally, I do have to stop a certain Vallhund from peeing on the graves, but I’m usually unsuccessful. If curses are real, Higgs is a likely candidate.

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At the end of one of many rows of graves, we came to the trail leading to Otari-Wilton’s Bush. This is one of my favorite stretches of trail. It winds alongside a river and the entire path is overhung with trees, creating an arboreal tunnel.

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One of the trailside benches features a quote I really like.

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I don’t think there could be better words to live by than those last two lines. No matter what you believe, make the best of what you have while you’re here. Higgs and I definitely plan to.

At the end of the trail, we emerged into Otari-Wilton’s Bush, the only public botanic garden in New Zealand dedicated solely to New Zealand native plants. That’s quite the distinction, and it really is an incredible place.

Higgs and I made for the Canopy Walkway first. It towers 75 meters (250 feet) over the valley below and provides great views of the giant native trees and surrounding forest.

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The afternoon sunlight made the gardens seem otherworldly.

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Higgs and I continued along the main loop but soon branched off onto one of the smaller side trails, where dogs have more freedom.

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When we came upon a creek running through a gorge, we branched off of the main trail to see how far we could get by following the stream bed.

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Higgs definitely enjoyed the combination of wading and rock climbing. Everything was perfect Vallhund scale.

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When we returned to the main path, we had to wait for a troop of barefoot children (only in NZ) and trailing adults to pass before ascending the next stairway. It was Anzac Day, so everyone was out and about for the school holiday.

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As the afternoon wore on, the sunlight through the trees became increasingly ethereal. The entire path was bathed in golden beams.

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Since I took so many pictures on this walk, I think it’s best to safe the rest for another blog. More Middle Earth magic to come!

2 thoughts on “Neighborhood Adventures

  1. What a gorgeous walk, Kelsey. And a very happy Higgs.

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  2. Yes, and why wouldn’t Higgs be one happy hound on that walk? The photo of him lying on the mossy rocks is one of my favorite Higgs-pix. Beautiful picture and commentary, Kelsey, from another beautiful trek.

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