A footpath leading towards a vast landscape of trees and hills. Over top you can see branches from large trees and through the middle of the landscape large power lines run through. All pictured on the Skyline Walkway in Wellington, New Zealand.

Your Ultimate Guide To The Skyline Walkway In Wellington

by Jonny Marc Baker
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The Skyline Walkway is a great Wellington walk that starts and finishes just outside the city centre in Johnsonville and Karori.  The aim of this guide is to inform you of everything that you need to know to complete the walk and inspire you to get out there and walk it.  The walk itself travels through a great deal of stunning scenery.  At times it’s easy to forget that you are so close to the city centre as you are transported to landscapes full of golden rolling hills and jaw-dropping coastlines.

The walk took me just under 4 hours to complete, and from start to finish is around 13.5km.  On the Wellington Council Website, they say the walk takes 5 hours to complete and is about 12km long, I, however, found this to be slightly inaccurate after tracking my walk.

  • Distance: 13.5km
  • Time To Complete: 4-5 hours depending on fitness
  • Elevation Gain: 475m
  • Start and Finish: End of Carmichael Street in Johnsonville and 125 Makara Rd, Karori, Wellington
A path leading through large golden grass covered hill on the Skyline Walkway in Wellington, New Zealand.

Travel To The Start And Finish

If you are looking to travel to the starting point in Johnsonville you can catch the Number 1 bus for $5 from Courtney Place in the centre of Wellington, or if you are nearer to Island Bay this is where the bus starts.  You want to make sure you catch the bus that is travelling to Johnsonville West as the other services will take you elsewhere.  When you are in Johnsonville make sure you get off at McLintock Street, the start of the walkway is 5 minutes away from here.  At the other end of the walkway in Karori, you can catch the Number 2 bus from Karori Park, this goes to Miramar and Seatoun which will get you back to the city.  This bus will take you back through Lambton Quay and Courtney Place in the centre of Wellington and also costs $5.

If you are looking to drive to the start and finish points you can find plenty of free street parking at both.  At the start/finish point in Johnsonville, you can find lots of street parking available as this is a residential area.  At the start/finish point in Karori, you can find free street parking.  As well as this there is a gravelled area right outside the start/finish where you would also be able to park.  You can find more information about the bus service on the Metlink Website.

Navigating The Skyline Walkway

The walk starts at the end of Carmichael Street in Johnsonville, follow the path up the hill for about 0.5km and you will see the first of the purple Skyline Walkway posts.  The walkway is very easy to navigate and stay on track as there are purple posts that say ‘Skyline Walkway’ spread along the entire route to guide you in the right direction.  The walkway finishes on Makara Road in Karori just next to Karori Park which the trail briefly passes through.  Although I started in Johnsonville and finished the route in Karori you can choose to walk the trail in whichever direction you like.  In order to finish the entire length of the walkway, you will need a reasonable level of fitness as it can be quite challenging in places.  If you don’t fancy tackling all 13.5km of it there are many different entry and access points along the walk.

Looking back over the suburb of Johnsonville in Wellington whilst hiking the Skyline Walkway trail
The purple sign posts that will guide you along the route.

The Route

The start of the walk from Johnsonville was my favourite part of the walk.  You start the walk traversing through a variety of hills with views of Johnsonville to your left, to your right you will see an abundance of golden grass covered hills for as far as the eye can see.  The majority of this first section of the walk is extremely picturesque and an amazing opportunity to get some incredible photos.  If you’re lucky enough and are walking at the right time you will come across some extremely cute sheep on your way towards Mt Kaukau.

As you continue into Johnsonville Park the scenery changes and you find yourself amongst more greenery and at times will find yourself under the cover of trees.  After about 4km you will reach the top of Mt Kaukau, this is the highest point of the walk at 445 metres above sea level.  It is here where you will get some of the best views of the city centre and the harbour of Wellington.  If you like you can soak up the views here from one of the picnic benches or from the top of the lookout platform.  As you descend Mt Kaukau you will get a taste of what is to come the rest of the route.

A map of the Southern Walkway route that shows the start and finish points.

From here you will walk on winding paths with beautiful golden and green hills either side of you.  If you are lucky enough to get a clear day you will be able to see the West Wind Farm to your left which is situated in Makara.  As you continue deeper down the track you will start to see power lines overhead, I noticed a lot of animals present around here such as cows, sheep and lots of rabbits.  Be careful around these animals especially the cattle.  When I was walking there were four cows with a calf blocking my route so I chose to take a route that bypassed them just to be on the safe side.

The walkway comes to an end as you cross through the top of Karori Park.  Here you will get to walk through a big forest which offers a different setting compared to the rest of the walk due to the fact that it is under the cover of trees.  As you exit the forest of trees it is only a short walk until you reach Makara Road and the final Skyline Walkway sign.

A gravelled path winding and weaving along grass covered hills on the Skyline Walkway in Wellington, New Zealand.

Thoughts On The Walk

I thought the Skyline Walkway was an incredible walk. Out of the many hikes I have done in Wellington it definitely rates up there as one of the best. It has the perfect mix of an inner city walk but the feeling of a rural hike. With it being close enough to the city you get to see some amazing views of the harbour and CBD, whilst being in amongst all the beautiful rolling hills and incredible scenery that this part of Wellington has to offer. Throughout the walkway, you will be exposed to the elements as you will be travelling on the ridgeline. Keep this in mind and make sure you check the weather forecast before you go out as a windy day might not be the best weather to complete the walk in. I hope this has helped you to make the best decision that you might possibly make in Wellington and get out and experience the Skyline Walkway.

A vast landscape of lush green foliage with a footpath running down the the side of a hill. On the footpath you can see a woman running in a pink top.

If you’re looking for some more great Wellington walks check out this article.

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Skyline Walkway pinterest pin showing a footpath and route heading towards large golden grass covered hills.

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The Best Places to Visit in Wellington New Zealand - The Planet D 22/04/2021 - 2:50 pm

[…] Skyline Walkway and Northern Walkway are arguably the two best trails in the area.  This is because both these […]

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