Mount Climie: An Introduction To My Favourite Wellington Day-Hike

Welcome to my favourite Wellington day-hike.

She’s a pretty low-key space, fairly anonymously tucked-away in Upper Hutt’s ‘Pakuratahi Forest’.  In fact, there’s a really good chance you’ve never even heard of this one.

Allow me to introduce you two…

Mount Climie comprises part of the northern (“tailbone”) end of the ‘Rimutaka Range’, an incredibly long mountain range here in Wellington that most locals could probably tell you something about.

You drive over the “Rimutakas” to get to the “‘Rapa” – they’re a prominent feature.

The great news is that there’s no need to scale any part of them whatsoever in order to get to Mount Climie; that bit comes later.  For now, simply drive yourself along SH2 towards a suburb just north of Upper Hutt called ‘Te Marua’, and along Plateau Road.  The terrain does eventually change from chipseal to gravel, but keep going and eventually you’ll enter ‘Tunnel Gully’, where your adventure officially begins.

There’s a road off to the left at the bottom car-park that takes you to an upper car-park and picnic area.  Drive carefully – service vehicles and SUVs frequent the area, and the road feels spectacularly narrow when you’re approaching each other head-on.  When you reach the end, you’ll see a white metal gate and a bunch of signage telling you you’re in the right place.

From my experience, “Climie” tends to be busy.  It’s very well-loved by local residents, no doubt because it provides the perfect platform for a wide range of leisure activities.  When you go, you’ll see hunter-gatherers, dog-walkers, runners, cyclists, trampers, horse-riders, and hard-core adventure-seekers in their grunty-asf 4WDs.  My advice is to have your listening ears turned-on, and your quick-fire reflexes at-the-ready.

I’ve ascended said apex three times this year, in different seasons: summer, autumn, and winter.  I’d have to say winter was by far my favourite experience, followed closely by autumn.  I found summertime to be too hot and hazy, and being my first go at it I huffed-and-puffed my way up, whereas autumn and winter felt far gentler, comparatively.

One thing that’ll strike you plainly in the face soon enough will be the distinct change in landscape (and temp(!)) around half-way up.  Here, the canopy gathers overhead and it literally feels like you’re entering an enchanted forest.  Everything changes, and all of a sudden you’re looking at different flora whilst feeling significantly cooler in your thermals.

Pretty remarkable stuff, really, especially for Wellington.

In autumn, the colours are beautiful.  Inspiring, even.  And the plants are so alpine-looking and unusual, particularly if you’re used to ground-level cityscapes and suburbia being your everyday worms-eye view, like I am.

Bit windy…

Winter, on the other hand…

Our Welly-winter this year saw snow fall to ridiculously low levels – yes folks, climate change is alive-and-well here in our tiny South Pacific paradise.  We feel its effects with each season, perhaps most noticeably over our summer- and winter-times.  A “next-level” Antarctic polar blast during July (*2015) was enough to coax me and my keen-asf hiking buddy out to Climie’s sublimely scenic surrounds for a ‘nohi’ (“nosey”), and a play.

We weren’t disappointed.

A constant series of sludge, powder, and knee-deep snowy goodness saw us ascend from foot-to-summit for some seriously breathtaking views.

Just, wow (^) …

Pretty neat-as winter wonderland, eh?

That’s Climie; and, if I were to leave you with any last tid-bits, I’d say:

  • Don’t make the mistake of stopping at the first comms tower or the trig station – here, you’ve reached North Climie but not the true summit of the mountain.  Continue the extra kilometre or-so to Climie No.2 (*and beyond) for better views.  North Climie’s an exceptional picnic lunch spot, though.
  • Pack heaps of fluid, and plenty of layers.  It may start off warm, but you can freeze your tits off in an instant at the top.
  • Take your camera – hell, do like me and take three.

Return the same way, and all-in-all it’s a 12 kilometre return-trip which tends to take us about 3.5 hours – we savour the scenic-route and all its meanderings, always.  And, we stop at the top for food.

Finally: here’s a really useful map of Mount Climie, if you’re like me and you love ’em.

Happy trail-blazing, whānau;


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