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Lately, we’ve been doing a lot of walking. We’re a walking family, happiest when we can trade car transport for our own feet, and Wellington is a walker’s nirvana.  That was the one downside of SE Asia. The heat was too oppressive to allow for walks much further than to dinner on the beach (but what a gorgeous walk that was). Two miles can feel like twelve in 95% humidity.  

 
Wellington, on the other hand, was designed for walkers.  In Wellington’s temperate climate and with the wind at our backs, we have been criss-crossing the hills and valleys of Wellington and its environs.  What we love about walking is that, like slow travel, the slower pace affords the opportunity to really get to know a place. To let it seep into your soul.  As we walk through the lush, forested woods, crossing charming neighborhoods and across local parks and playgrounds, we stumble upon cricket games, uniform-clad school kids walking home, 100-year old cemeteries, tui birds, nature reserves and totem poles.  Each time we summit a hill, we are rewarded with far-reaching views of Wellington’s fabulous harbor or coastal bays.   We’ve been greeted by rainbows and drops of rain, but no downpours.  
 
Wellington’s parks and trails are its birthright. Its founders, fleeing the industrial blight of England, were forward-thinking enough to foresee how public green spaces could enhance the well-being of its people. In 1840, they required that the city be separated from the country by a protected “town belt”.   This town belt continues to serve as the backbone of Wellington’s walkways 170 years later even though the city’s limits have surpassed the belt.  
 
From the heart of the central business district, one can walk to several celebrated walkways within minutes.  There is the City to Sea walkway, the Southern Walkway, the Skyline Walkway and even a section of the Te Aroroa trail (which traverses the entire country).  
 
A couple of weeks ago we took all day to do the City to Sea Walkway in reverse, starting at the coast in Island Bay and heading back towards the city.  The walk is 13km, but the path hops from hilltop to hilltop, necessitating repeated stairway climbs and descents so that the entire walk is the equivalent of climbing and descending the tallest mountain in England.  
 
We’ve walked a portion of the Southern Walkway, which took us past roaring animals in the Wellington Zoo.
 
We walked the Eastern Walkway which started outside the suburb of Seaton, and carried us above charming bays, past an Ataturk Memorial and deposited us on a pebbled beach where my mom and Zara collected armfuls of new treasures.
 
Today we took the ferry about 20 minutes into the middle of the harbor and walked around Matui/Somes Island, which has been used as both a people and animal quarantine in its past and now serves as a predator-free reserve affording stunning views of Wellington.   
 
Others days, we have just wandered with no particular destination in mind, focused solely on the journey and the next chocolate break.  
 
Tomorrow, we may tackle the more strenuous Skyline Walkway.  We are down to our last four days in this marvelous little city.  We already know that we’ll sorely miss its trails.  
 
 
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