Queen Elizabeth Park just south of Raumati offers a lovely variety of riding, walking, and horse riding trails. It is also home to the Wellington Tramway Museum and the trams can take you on scenic journeys around the park every weekend.
Parking at the impressive new conference and office complex, we set off. A quick look at the map on the sign had us somewhat confused—the line colours did not match the trails. So after a false start, we grabbed a brochure and were on our way.
A soldier’s story
We soon came upon a memorial to the American soldiers who lived in training camps set up at the site during the Second World War. Soldiers trained here before heading off to fight in the Pacific.
From 1942 to 1943, over an 18-month period, 20,000 American soldiers passed through the camp. The memorial tells the stories of those soldiers, from the hardships they faced at camp to the tragedy of a doomed training exercise and those who were lost in the Pacific.
A bike expressway
Following the park road further towards the coast, we came to an intersection. To either side was a wide and sealed bike path. This path stretches from Raumati South to Paekakariki—a fantastic resource for the local community.
So with a cafe in mind in Paekakariki, we opted to head towards Raumati South and loop back via the coastal mountain bike track; that way, we would really deserve our eggs benedict.
Reaching Raumati, we followed our noses along the road until we reached the coast, stopping to gaze out at Kapiti Island before carrying on. Following the sealed coastal path, we soon had to go up onto the road and found the park once again. This time, a short steep sandy hill was our entry point, which was a bit more challenging.
From the top of this hill, the track was well gravelled and wide, and we had a lot of fun flying up and down over the dunes. Close to the beach part of the path was washed away, so it was off the bikes to push for a bit, but that’s all part of mountain biking.
Soon we were at the intersection again and choosing the track to take us the rest of the way into Paekakariki.
Paekakariki—a hidden treat
From the end of the track, it was a good five minutes biking along the road to get to the village centre. Just after leaving the park, we passed the Paekakariki Holiday Park—a great location for those who want a bit of beach and biking fun for a few days.
Once in town, we locked up our bikes and headed straight for the Perching Parrot—a cafe I had enjoyed before. A large mocha and delicious brunch were just what was needed to rejuvenate us for the bike ride back.
Art gallery delight
You can’t visit Paekakariki without wandering through the rabbit warren that is Alan Wehipeihana and Friends Gallery. Situated in an old multi-storey building close to the train tracks, the gallery features beautiful work from local artists.
With only a small backpack, we were limited in our purchases, so with a few gorgeous small prints lovingly wrapped, we were back on our bikes and on the road.
The obligatory ice cream
Arriving back at the car, we deviated across to the tram station for an ice cream. The restored tram is beautiful and the tram driver was happy to tell us all about it. Might have to bring the kids back next time; the park certainly offers a great day out.