East Harbour Regional Park
A backdrop to Eastbourne and Wainuiomata, East Harbour's sheltered valleys and sweeping bays offer bush clad retreats and wide open views over Wellington harbour and the South Island
Park your car at Williams Park and the Days Bay Pavilion for a kai (food) stop to fuel your body up for a day of exploring. Walk along the beach or hire a kayak for a bit of water fun then follow the trails behind Williams Park to climb up to the ridge line for views across Wellington Harbour, then descend into the valley to search out giant trees in Butterfly Creek.
Don't miss an opportunity to buy your picnic lunch from Marmalade Deli in Eastbourne - and a sweet treat of their locally famous vanilla custard squares. These are so good you might no be able to wait until your lunch stop!
Grab the lead before you leave home - your pooch can come on these walks! Dogs are permitted on the Pencarrow Coast Road but unfortunately can't go up to the lighthouse or to Baring Head as there is livestock and wildlife.
There are plenty of connecting tracks through East Harbour Regional Park, and there are designated tracks in the northern forest (Main Ridge Track from Wainuiomata to Rata Ridge), in the Pencarrow Lakes area and at Baring Head where you can take your bike.
The Pencarrow Lighthouse was New Zealand's first permanent lighthouse and was run by New Zealand's only female lighthouse-keeper, Mary Jane Bennett, who took over the post for ten years - when her husband George, the former keeper, tragically passed away. She lived alone with her six children in this rugged and spectacular coastline from 1855 to 1865.
The cast iron tower was made in England and then erected on Pencarrow Head, at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. It was first lit on New Year's Day 1859 and beamed its cautionary message for 76 years, until it was decommissioned and replaced by the Baring Head lighthouse.
Located within the Park, the lighthouse makes for a pleasant day-trip. Walk or cycle the 8km gravel track to the lighthouse from Burden's Gate, at the south end of Eastbourne (8km walk).
To the south, the Parangarahu Lakes area provides sweeping views and diverse geological features. It cradles the nationally significant freshwater wetlands of Kohangatera and Kohangapiripiri and is home to a wealth of native plants and wildlife.
East Harbour is a great spot for cycling, walking, tramping, and hunting.