Mount Victoria Summit - Tangi Te Keo

Lookout with a view of Wellington, the Hutt Valley and Cook Strait that's truly panoramic. There is a memorial to US explorer Admiral Richard E. Byrd. You can walk here from Courtenay Place. It will take about an hour. Car is faster but the streets are narrow and a little challenging, or take the Number 20 bus up to the Mt Victoria summit. It doesn't run on the weekends though. Click above to hear the audio guide. 

Mount Victoria, easily accessible by foot or vehicle, is undoubtedly the capital city’s favourite lookout. Popular with the tourists for its spectacular bird’s-eye view of the city, the harbour the airport and the Hutt Valley, The site is also appealing to locals. On warm summer evenings there is nowhere better to enjoy your fish and chips than with a glass of red wine and a view of the setting sun as it descends behind the surrounding hills. While the view is impressive what you can’t see which can be seen from other Wellington vantage points are the troubled waters of Cook Strait and the South Island. They are hidden by the hills to the South West and West - The city of Nelson is in fact just further north than Wellington.

The Cook Strait is a natural hazard some intrepid Wellingtonians expose themselves to by sailing to the South Island in small boats.  Another source of natural hazard which is not so voluntary is the regions seismicity. A much studied source of earthquake movement is the Wellington fault which passes the edge of the city. Mount Victoria, whilst not on the fault scarp, provides an excellent vantage point from which to view the broader plate boundary environment of Wellington and the Hutt Valley. The scarp stands out prominently as the northwestern margin of Port Nicholson.

In the distance, Lower Hutt Valley forms a wedged low-lying area between the Wellington Fault scarp and the Eastern Hills. Immediately below you to the West – on the waterfront - is the National Museum of New Zealand (Te Papa) where you can find an exhibit called Awesome Forces and see the foundations on which the museum is built. These are designed to reduce the shaking if a quake occurs. Look out for two distinctive sports fields, one old and the other new.

Crickets venue, the Basin Reserve can be seen just below Mt Victoria to the south-west while to the north, Wellington’s new stadium, colloquially known as the cake tin, hosts provincial and international rugby as well as on occasions the Rugby sevens.

Mount Victoria is part of the Wellington Town Belt, land set-aside in 1841 by the New Zealand Company for a “public recreation ground for the inhabitants of Wellington”. It offers many recreational opportunities like walking, jogging and mountain biking.

At the base of the small knob forming the peak of Mt Victoria you will find a memorial to the American polar explorer and aviator Admiral Byrd.  The tiles on the Richard Byrd Memorial were designed by Doreen Blumhardt to depict the Aurora Australis.

Image Credit; Mt Victoria Lookout, Glen Butler Night and Light Photography