Arguably the most popular gradient walk in the Kāpiti district is the Parata Track.
The track is within the Hemi Matenga Scenic Reserve in the foothills of Waikanae.
It's a track that provides a solid workout, doesn't take a long time, and leaves you with a sense of achievement.
Taking about 45 minutes, and covering about 2km, you'll venture up through a spectacular forest with kohekohe trees, a native species to New Zealand, being the star attraction.
The reserve, which spans 330 hectares, protects the largest remaining tract of kohekohe forest, which formerly covered vast areas of the west coast from Wellington to Waikanae.
The track is well-formed and very straightforward with little chance of getting lost.
At the top, which is about a 370m elevation gain, you'll enjoy views over the coast as well as the Reikorangi Valley.
There's a wooden seat in memory of Ria Klap [1928-2012], who loved the view.
It's a good place to soak up the view, have a bite to eat and wash down a drink, before heading down.
While DoC states it takes about 45 minutes to the top, you'll get there a bit quicker if you get your groove on.
The track is a firm favourite with people of all ages and chances are you'll see others enjoying the experience. Remember to say hello.
Like any walk, you need to go prepared: tell others what you're doing, pack an extra warm layer, have some food and drink handy, and make sure your smartphone is charged so you can take a photo of the vistas.
Weather conditions can change and while the Parata Track is well protected by a forest canopy, it can be exposed at the top, especially if you're pressing on along the Te Au Route.
The reserve is named after Hemi Matenga Waipunahau, who was a member of a distinguished Ngati Toa family.
"In 1900 he bought land in this area from his brother Wi Parata, forming the Hemi Matenga Estate and including the township of Parata," states a history board at the start of the walk.
"Hemi Matenga died in 1912 and the reserve was established in his memory by the trustees of the estate."
There are three Hemi Matenga tracks to choose from.
Each can be started at Tui Crescent where there is a well-signposted entrance.
Next to a large water tank, just as you enter the bush, is a map of the tracks.
Kohekohe Track: 30-minute walk between Tui Crescent and Kakariki Grove.
Parata Track: 1-2 hour return starting at Tui Crescent.
Te Au Route: 3-4 hour tramp to Huia St from Tui Crescent. Tramping boots advised. There are markers along the tops.
- This article first appeared in the Celebrating Kāpiti magazine spring/summer 2021