The Mount Victoria Lookout is a Wellington must do, whether you are a tourist or a local. It is also a top tourist attraction, ranking 4 out of 209 attractions in Wellington on Trip Advisor. It has stunning panoramic views of Wellington city, the harbor, and beyond. Sitting at 196m above the city, it is also not a walk in the park.
I had a 2.5 hour trail run on the agenda today, which I was really looking forward to. However, I was also battling a cold, issues with my asthma, and suffering from long days at work followed by rehearsal, and had taken Friday off work to try to recover from the cough that had started to develop. So I didn’t want to push myself too hard on the trails, physically or mentally. I decided to stay close to home, and not venture too far in case I did need to jump out early or turn around. So the Southern Walkway was perfect – close to the city, 11km each way, with lots of rolling hills, a few steeper ups and downs, but nothing too difficult or technical. There was also plenty of shade, perfect on a sunny winter day like today. Mount Victoria is the tallest part of the trail, with Mount Albert a close second, so the max elevation is only 196m. However, you basically start from sea level, so today’s run resulted in a total 509m of elevation gain…and as you can see there were quite a few ups and downs!
I started this morning from Oriental Parade, near Carlton Gore Road, which is as good as any access point to the Southern Walkway – straight up a big hill, tough going but effective. However, even that much of a climb was hard on the poor, tired and sick lungs. I had to take a short break to catch my breath, before setting off again, joining up with the trails in the Mount Victoria Reserve. Every single time I have run through Mount Victoria, I always get lost. I take a wrong turn, and end up going the wrong way up a mountain biking trail. I was adamant that I would not make the same mistake this time. I was going to check every single sign, every map I came across and find the RIGHT way up to the Mount Victoria Lookout.
Despite my efforts, I ended up on the same mountain biking track I always end up on, and running the wrong way. Luckily, there were no bikes and no collisions. But still, here I was again, running a non-running path, getting lost…I could not understand how on earth this could happen to me again! Once I got over my frustrations, I found myself at the car park for the Lookout, and decided that I deserved a break, to take in some of the view. And what a view it was today…no clouds, you could see all around, 360 degree views. There were so many people out, so many tourists, locals, families, couples. And what was best – no one on Pokemon Go.
I love the Mount Victoria Lookout because while you get a beautiful view of the Wellington Harbor, you also get to see all the buildings, all the suburbs, and it puts the city into perspective. You feel on top of the world, it is a very special feeling.
From Mount Victoria, I ran towards Newtown, up to Mt Alfred, and out to Kilbirnie. The link between the Mount Victoria reserve and the rest of the Walkway can be a bit tricky to find, once you enter residential addresses, but just keep looking out for signs. Through Melrose Park, you run past the baboon enclosure at the zoo, and up to Mount Albert. This was the main goal for me, no matter how terrible I felt, I wanted to reach Mount Albert, the trig station on top of it and stop to savor the view.
Once you reach Melrose Park, it is a brief run uphill to Mount Albert, from the baboons, followed by a small run along the narrow path (pictured above) towards the trig station marking the top of the mountain (for those who don’t know what a trig station is…don’t worry. I didn’t know until recently, and Mal Law was the one who enlightened me during the sunrise run for RunFest, where we ran to this very point!)
There was a lot of stopping along the way, not only because I wasn’t feeling great and needed to catch my breath much more than usual, but also to enjoy the beautiful scenery and take some photos. While I ran for 1:36, I was out for 2:10. I ran 13km overall, because once I made it to Mount Albert (9km along the way) I turned around, and headed to Hataitai to pick up my car (we were heading to a Karma Keg in Petone that afternoon so needed the car). That resulted in a shorter return of 4km instead of 9km (pictured below).
And again, while my lungs and my body felt tired due to my cold, my legs felt great. It was a really awesome feeling, and has been a really great experience, the past few weeks just going for some ‘long’ runs and enjoying them, not feeling any pain, any soreness, and feeling 100% afterwards. It shows that I can push myself more, I can run longer, I am simply choosing not to. Because I know, soon, I will have no choice and will have to run longer. Run three, four, five hours on a Saturday. Push myself and test myself, keep to a time, a pace, and try to hold onto the fun and the joy of running. So for now, I am setting out with a goal, trying to keep to it, but not worrying too much if I don’t. What matters most is the experience, the time on my feet, and the smile on my face when I finish. Oh, and the Instagram photos, of course.