Mr and Mrs Walking with Kids
Baring Head Lighthouse - East Harbour Park Wainuiomata
Updated: Nov 23, 2022
Saturday 20th November 2022
Location: 5373 Wainuiomata Coast Road, Wainuiomata.
It was a windy but sunny Sunday afternoon when we decided to head out to the Baring Head/Ōrua-pouanui East Harbour Park. The entrance to the park is almost at the end of the Wainiomata Coast Road. The carpark is on your right with a big signpost, there is no cell-phone reception here, although we found once we were on the top of the hills our phones started working again.
The drive out is quite long and windy so by the time we arrived everyone was grateful to see there was a flash long-drop in the carpark.
After a quick comfort stop, we headed over the bridge and took a right up the road on the other side. We were a little bit confused because there was no sign pointing to our right, but after studying the map we were pretty confident that was the direction we wanted to go (luckily, we were correct).
We walked up the road until we came to a sign pointing to the Habour Viewpoint Track (we think this is called the Bridle Track on some of the maps). The Lighthouse via Road Track would be better suited to younger families or for kids not as enthusiastic about a steep climb (essentially you just continue following the road to the top).
The track turns right at the first big bend and from there the incline steepens as you climb up the ridgeline.
The trick with this track was following the orange triangles as it wasn't always obvious what direction to head. Master 10 was all over this from his experience tramping through the Tauraua Ranges. Up the ridgeline we went, with plenty of stops to admire the view back down the valley. This was probably the first big walk of spring, and we were out of practice. About halfway up the hill we realised there was going to be no cover from sun or wind so we got stuck into the sunscreen, our fair little family would have fried otherwise.
About 20 minutes later we popped out onto the Parangarahu Pa site. The views were incredible; out over the Cook Strait, around to Wellington and back over the valley towards Turakirae Head.
The wind was blustering so we headed south without lingering too long. We walked back down the hill and the track then crossed the road (which we'd previously turned off). From here you can continue along the road or follow the triangles along the fence-line and up the ridge to the trig. For those who follow our blogs you can probably guess which way we went :)...it wasn't the road :P
We were now following the Grand Loop Track. We saw lots of lambs on our way up the hill, and we also found a picnic table. It was too windy to stop though, so we decided to have our lunch next to an old chimney instead.
After lunch we headed up to the trig. The views were spectacular. There was also an old WW2 bunker next to the Trig, we quickly discerned why there was a fence around it.
Sick of the wind we cut back down the path we'd followed up and descended through the sheep to the lighthouse (just before the picnic table).
The orange triangles led us to another farm road. We thought we saw a sign in the distance (South-West near the lighthouse) so continued in that direction, following the orange triangles. Yes! we found the lighthouse sign and a little track leading to it.
We were surprised to find the Baring Head Lighthouse surrounded by buildings and a very flash long drop. It had no door but an amazing view which we all decided made no door actually kind of cool.
We had a good look around and meandered down to the lighthouse where the kids climbed a rock adjacent to it to see if they could get as high.
We then retraced our steps back to the farm track, continuing anticlockwise to complete the loop. The track went east along a paddock and then led down towards Coast Road.
Once on the valley floor again the loop swings north and heads up the west side of the Wainuiomata River beneath a steep but picturesque scree slope. There are a couple of points on this part of the track where the drop-down to the river is quite steep.
Eventually we made it to the Old Pump House for a quick break at the picnic table before taking the inside track of the Oxbow Loop to the carpark (we could see the bridge at the carpark from here).
The Oxbow Loop was quite overgrown with spring grass and wildflowers coming up to our knees. The kids wished they'd brought long pants for that bit as it irritated their legs.
Oh, and we even found giant hedgehogs disguised as grass!
We were back at the car in no time for a nice relaxing drive home. What an awesome adventure. So much to see and do - full of history and gives you a new perspective of Wellingtons geography. Love it!
Age of Kids: 7yr and 10yr
Walking Time: 3-4 hours
Difficulty: Moderate (it's a bit steep at points ascending and descending)
Wet Feet: No
Amenities: There is a long drop in the carpark and at the lighthouse as well as several picnic tables and chairs
Cellphone Reception: Yes, at the top.
Things to be aware of: It’s really exposed so come prepared for all weather conditions and remember to check the weather forecast first.