Sunday, 2nd July 2023
Location: Hill Road carpark, Belmont, Lower Hutt. The carpark is at the very top of the public driving access of Hill Road. The car park is well marked and has a number of Greater Wellington Regional Council signs.
For a long time, Kilmister has been a dirty word in our house. One of our families first big walks was from Old Coach Road to Boulder Hill (in 2019). Realising we were running short of daylight we attempted a shortcut via Kilmister, which went down in the memory bank as steep, muddy and a waste of half an hour when time was running short (we got lost).
The time had come for us to deal to our white whale. We had a much better idea of the land now, we had AllTrails and bigger kids who were ready to finally tick this one off. Running against us though were all the people we'd met who had found themselves lost on the Kilmister.
We'd examined it from all angles and decided we would start at the Hill Road car park and make our way north then northwest up to Boulder Hill.
The signage in the car park was very encouraging. Our memory was a complete absence of signage coming from the top but there was plenty here, both a map and the first of many orange triangles.
We were shocked to find orange triangles all the way down the gulley. We were not expecting this, we assumed we'd have to fight our way through using compasses and machetes. The path was narrow but reasonably easy to navigate. There were a few stream crossings to manage. A little bit of agility was required to keep feet dry.
Once you get to the pony club at the bottom, the track begins to climb, following a steep service road. This necessitated frequent stopping, which included eating gorse flowers which the kids were convinced taste like pumpkin, Mum wasn't so sure. We also needed a few sour worms for extra encouragement.
Once we reached the top of the hill, we really felt like we were rural. This is where AllTrails first came in handy. We had to hop a couple of fences and then make our way across farm paddocks. If you can't see the orange markers, knowing the rough direction was quite handy (there was no cellphone reception up here). Also, there are markers so if you lose them retrace your steps.
Over a few paddocks, still following the markers, a farm road takes the track down to the base of Boulder Hill.
Things got a bit tricky here. We hadn't realised there were two Kilmister Track's going up the hill. To the left was a well marked track that looked relatively gentle and goes up to the base of the farm hub. To the right was the path that had done us in last time. It was significantly steeper and much more direct, but it was the course of our nemesis and had to be dealt with.
The farm road went through a wide stream. To avoid this, we climbed over a fence and went a few meters downstream to skip over the rocks there (it looked like everyone else uses this same workaround.)
The road went straight up the hill. The track was quite steep, but with frequent stops (to enjoy the view and scoff lollies) we arrived at the pylon in about half an hour. From the pylon we weren't sure which way to go. There was a gate with an access road to the right, or you could walk to the left past the pylon. We tried the gate but didn't see a marker for about 100m so turned back. We were wrong, the track goes up past the pylon, following the fenceline.
We carried on up the hill, following the markers. We could see Boulder Hill in the distance (with its distinct rock formations).
We couldn't see any markers as we neared the top, so we just followed the fence-line up to the top of the hill (we had gorse/bush to our right and farmland to the left.)
The hill plateaus out and eventually joins the main track up to Boulder Hill, about 500m from the summit. From here there are panoramic views stretching out across the Wellington Region. Stunning! (and exposed)
You could climb the extra 500m to the summit, but our lot were tired, so we decided to continue on the loop, heading left back down the main track towards the farm hub. At the base of the saddle, we came across the signage to where the gentler Kilmister track came out. From the top, it looked pretty well marked.
There was one last push up past the ammunition bunkers to the farm hub.
From here we turned down Hill Road towards the car. The short walk down was quite eventful.
a) we saw a dead frog.
b) we had to quickly get out of the way as the farms 600 strong flock was escorted past us by five excited farm dogs. We quickly ran through the gate, closing it behind us.
c) we found tree stumps to climb
d) the strangest looking hill
and lastly e) we found some large pipes to play in. As we were playing, we were also being stalked by a curious kingfisher.
The rain clouds then descended on us, and we made a run the last 100m to the car.
All in all, it was a grand old adventure and Kilmister has redeemed itself in our family's eyes.
Age of Kids: Miss 8 & Master 10
Walking Time: 4 hours
Wet Feet : There's a few streams to navigate so it depends on agility :)
Amenities: There is a toilet at the top of Hill Road (at the end of the track)
Dogs: No Dogs (it's a working farm)
Cellphone Reception: Not really (it's patchy)
Be Aware: As with all elevated places its exposed so bring appropriate layers. It's a working farm so worth checking if it's closed for lambing before you start.
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