We weren’t sure if we would make it today but after another nearly 50km day we’ve finished the North Island! It’s taken exactly 70 days including 5 rest days which was our original goal so we’re very happy with that. It feels pretty monumental to have finished and we have a full two days off in Wellington and a 3rd on which we’ll be ferrying South before beginning the Queen Charlotte track and the start of the South Island.
We started off early on the first train back out to Porirua. Getting started at around 8am after a quick stop at New World to pick up breakfast we got going on a quick 3km through the city and then started climbing Colonial Knob. It was about a 400m climb up but on very easy track including stairs and hand rails.
We reached what we thought was the summit but it turned out to just be a shorter lookout. We continued on up on a old farming road which by now was completely covered in fog/cloud and very windy. Eventually we reached the summit with a small hut and no view.
We continued past the summit descending through farmland and then climbing along road to the base of Mt Kaukua, our second summit of the day.
The summit was an easy climb and about halfway up we began to see some of Wellington’s closer neighborhoods. We still had a lot to go at this point to finish the North Island so we were holding off any excitement. The view from the top was pretty spectacular and the clouds had cleared but the wind was very intense so we didn’t pause for long.
The track continued down the other side of the mountain then quickly dropped off down a valley reaching the road and the end of neighborhood. We started walking through some nice of the neighborhoods winding up and down some very steep roads and trying to not take a wrong turn anywhere. We stopped for lunch outside of a library on the way and then picked up smoothies from a cafe we passed. It was starting to get really hot in the early afternoon so we were tiring pretty quickly and hadn’t yet really hit the city.
This provided our first views of the city and we could even see back to where our hotel was. We ended by climbing through the botanical gardens to the top of the cable car and views over all of the central business district.
We finally descended back through the other side of the gardens and across the highway into Wellington itself. It was a quick walk through the city to the waterfront and around Oriental Bay to the start of the Mt Victoria climb.
The Mt Victoria climb was the start of the last 11km so even though we were tired we knew at this point that we’d be finishing the island today. This certainly helped us dig that last little bit of energy. It was a steep climb but all on nice track so nothing that really bothered us to much in terms of difficulty. The track continued on through the Mt Vic park on the Southern crossing track that followed the green belt along the South side of Wellington. We had nice views the whole way but the sun was starting to get to us.
We had a few more tops to climb up but by this point we were just slogging on trying to beat the clock and sun. Eventually we started to descend down towards the ocean and after a short walk along the waterfront we circled back into a park and found the marker for the end of the North Island. It was a little funny feeling so monumental at this stone with everyone else just going on normally around you but didn’t take away from the great feeling of finishing. We got some well earned fish and chips for dinner after. Now for a few days rest and then the daunting challenge of the South Island.