Pukeatua (the summit of Wainuiomata hill) is a special place for many local people. The name Pukeatua means the summit of the gods and features in the Māori story of how Wellington harbour was formed. It is also renowned for its fantastic views over the valley and harbour and is the access point for many of the region’s best walking and mountain biking trails.
Since the beginning of 2019, nearly 17000 pedestrians and over 6500 cyclists have traversed the Wainuiomata Hill for fitness, for fun or to commute. This has just become easier and safer with the opening of Te Hikoi Ararewa (Wainuiomata shared pathway).
The completion of Te Hikoi Ararewa was celebrated in two events – a formal opening ceremony on Friday 31 May attended by Associate Transport and Health Minister Hon Julie Anne Genter and a community event on Queens Birthday Monday.
Lower Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace said completing Te Hikoi Ararewa, meaning pathway to the horizon, is “a landmark occasion for our active transport projects in Lower Hutt.”
Wainuiomata Ward Councillor Campbell Barry said the pathway is an asset for not only Wainuiomata locals, but for the wider city. “For a long time the Wainuiomata Hill has been viewed as a barrier for walking and cycling. With the completion of the sharedway, it is now truly one of our city’s biggest assets.”
Wainuiomata Ward Councillor Josh Briggs said “Every day I see people walking or cycling over the hill. Having the shared pathway will not only keep those people in our community who already walk and cycle the hill safe, it will encourage others to get out and be active.”
Right Hon Julie Anne Genter, Associate Minister of Health and Transport rode an e-bike up the shared pathway with other guests to acknowledge the joint efforts of NZTA, Hutt City Council and contractors GHD Engineering and Downers in creating the shared pathway.
Creating walking and cycling infrastructure is a key part of Hutt City Council’s Walk and Cycle the Hutt 2014-2019 strategy and fundamental to encouraging more people to get around our city actively. The shared pathway over Wainuiomata Hill is part of a $28million investment by Council and New Zealand Transport Agency to construct an integrated network of walking and cycling routes for the city.
Mark Shanks, Healthy Families Lower Hutt’s Healthy Design Lead is working with the Wainuiomata community and stakeholders to continue the focus on walking and cycling. The first initiatives will focus on normalising regular use of Te Hikoi Ararewa for fun and commuting, followed by working with local schools and community organisations to make walking and cycling the easy and natural choice for everyone.
Imagine if walking and cycling became the transport mode of choice for Lower Hutt, creating healthier people and a healthier and more sustainable city.