The Colonial Knob Walkway is a track you won’t find many tourists on, making it somewhat off the beaten track. But most locals in the region get around to doing the walk on a nice day.
I’ve walked up to the Colonial Knob summit a few times. The photos in this post are from my walk to the summit (485 metres above sea level) in September 2018. This walk was from the Rahia Street entrance, and returning back that way (~8.8 km). Unfortunately, the low cloud was rolling in which meant the South Island, Mt Taranaki, and Kapiti Island weren’t visible.
In this post, you’ll read about:
- My Mt Kaukau walk experience with various tips and comments
- A quick FAQ about the walk (including how to get to the trailhead)
- A bunch of photos
After going around the gate the first 1 km of the gravel track could be confusing (it isn’t) as there are several tracks that veer off into the trees. The majority of these are for mountain bikers so all you need to do is stay on the main gravel track.
Once you move past the treeline, you’ll start to get into the rugged beauty of New Zealand. Think rolling hills, plenty of gorse, and some remaining trees and shrub. I did see three native New Zealand Pigeons (a.k.a the Kereru) which was cool.
If you’ve been looking at the walkway on a map, it can look confusing but it’s not (I promise). You need to remain on the main track all the way to the summit. If you like you can take trips along other trails, you might find an awesome viewpoint.
Along the way you’ll see the suburbs on your left once you pass the pine trees. It’ll take a while but you’ll see Mana Island on your right, and behind you, you can see towards Porirua.
The track isn’t too steep and levels off for some parts. I’d consider the hike to be a moderate difficulty that people of all fitness levels should be able to complete. There are two gates you’ll need to go over, but there are stiles (steps over the gate) to make this easy. I saw a few herds of sheep and two cows close to the top but they’re on other properties. The steepest part of the track is the final ~150 metres before you reach the summit.
At the top, there’s a fenced off building you can walk around to see all the views along with a couple of benches. There are a few signs with distances to various points. You might want to walk the 11km from the Colonial Knob summit to the Mount Kaukau Lookout.
The descent will be quicker as you go back down the ~390-metre change in elevation on the same track you walked up.
Colonial Knob Walkway FAQ
How do I get to the Mount Kaukau trailhead?
There are two entry points for the Colonial Knob Walkway & Summit. One on Raiha Street and one from next to the Broken Hill Car Park. These instructions will be to the Raiha Street entrance.
Drive:If you’re planning to drive you can park on the road next to the entrance (free parking). From Wellington Train Station it’s about a 22km drive that will take ~20 minutes. I’d recommend parking on the walkway side of the road. Raiha Street isn’t busy with wide lanes, and there will likely be other cars parked at the entrance too. Keep your valuables in the car out of sight etc.
Public Transport: The best public transport option for most will be to catch the train (Kapiti (KPL) Line a.k.a Waikanae Train) to Keneperu Station and walk the 1.6km (20 minutes) to the trailhead).
From Keneperu Train Sation take the exit across the river and then turn left onto Keneperu Drive. Take the first right onto Raiha Street and continue walking until you see the entrance on the left-hand side. Walking instructions on Google Maps here.
Are dogs &/or bikes allowed on the track?
Mountain bikes are, but they’ll mostly stick to the specialised track for the adventure. Dogs aren’t allowed on the Colonial Knob track.
Is there a track map available?
No physical one. At the Raiha Street entrance, there are a couple of boards with all the trails laid out you can look out. Otherwise, the old faithful, Maps.Me app has everything if you somehow get lost.
How long does it take to walk the trail?
The board suggest 3-4 hours to walk the 8.8km round trip. Of course, some will get that complete a lot quicker. I took about 1 hour and 10 minutes to reach the summit and less than to return. So about 2 hours in total. You could always take the loop around to the Broken Hill Car Park after the summit and walk along the road back to your car/train station.
Is the walk safe?
Yup, safe as houses. The nice big wide tracks can fit a car (or two), and you may have a couple pass you (the gate is for private/council car use only).
If you’re going on a marginal weather day, do take some warm/wet weather gear as it’s very exposed towards the summit and it the weather can change in a hurry (as I discovered). There are no cliffs or anything you walk along, so that’s fine.
Also worth noting, there are no toilets and/or cafes along the way.
Best time of the day to walk?
Aim for the time of day when it’s likely to be the best weather and you don’t want to start less than four hours before sunset. Although it’s not the worst trail to walk along in the dark. Want photos? The morning light will shine on Mana Island, and in the late afternoon, you’ll have good lighting on Porirua and Tawa. The sun can be a factor too, try avoiding the middle of the day if it’s warm…and put sunblock on! (your Mum would like me telling you this)
Is it worth it?
If you have plans to visit Porirua for a few hours, this is a good hike to make a day trip out of it. For locals, you should do it at some point as the view over Mana Island is quite unique and there aren’t many other summits this high in Wellington.
Have a great time walking up to the Colonial Knob! Any questions? As always, ask away.
MORE WELLINGTON WALKS: