The man who died on a new Kapiti walking track was Derek Bunting - a high school teacher and president of the Hutt Repertory Theatre.

Mr Bunting collapsed on the Paekakariki Escarpment track about 1.10pm yesterday, Fairfax reported.

The theatre's vice president Ruth Sarratt said she was shocked at the news Mr Bunting had died.

"He was a gentleman, and he will be missed.


"We worked together on a couple of productions, he was quite an unassuming man, not one of those brash theatre types," she said.

"He mostly worked behind the scenes doing admin and set construction."

The track on which Mr Bunting died stretches 10km alongside State Highway 1 between Paekakariki and Pukerua Bay and was opened to the public earlier this month.

It contains 492 steps and serves as part of the Te Araroa trail, which stretches from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

A Wellington Free Ambulance spokesman said the death was a "medical event".

Fairfax reported Mr Bunting was three weeks into a new job at Sacred Heart College in Lower Hutt, and his first grandchild was born recently.