December 7, 2023 Petone (Day 71)

As just about every name here, it’s pronounced differently than I thought! Petone, pronounced pe-tone-eh. It’s a town at the northern shore of Wellington Harbour, where the Hutt river flows into the harbour. Now it is considered a suburb of the town of Lower Hutt, not to be confused with Upper Hutt, which is upstream on the Hutt river. We went there on a mission, to purchase a flag, particularly the United Tribes flag of New Zealand. The first flag, chosen by a slim majority of 25 Maori chieftains in 1834, to represent the ‘new’ nation of New Zealand. It was necessary to enable the Maori to legally trade with Australia under British law.

The first recognized flag of the nation of New Zealand.

Anyway, we found our way to the flag shop and after our purchase we had a great conversation with the woman who helped us. She gave us recommendations for short walks in the Petone area and we set out to explore. A short bus ride took us to the edge of Petone where the river valley ascended into the hills. We found the Percy Scenic Reserve as she described it and found picnic tables to have lunch. The Reserve is the culmination of the lifetime works of the 3 Percy brothers whose grandfather purchased the land from a Maori chieftain around 1840 and set up a flour mill on the creek flowing from the hills. When the mill ceased operation the 3 brothers, unmarried with no families, continued living on the land and created gardens of native and exotic vegetation. Eventually the last brother opened the gardens to the public and in 1939 it was passed to the local government, who administer the reserve now. After our lunch we set out to explore the trails.

As we passed the pond, created to run the waterwheel to turn the millstone for the flour mill, this family of ducks followed us!

The ducks abandoned us as we offered no treats and we headed further on the trail towards the waterfall.

We followed the gurgling creek uphill.

The waterfall was more impressive than we expected from the tiny creek we followed!

The trail was well laid out, with wooden walkways along the narrow creek bed.

We headed up a connecting trail to a higher point, but didn’t get any great long distant views so we returned down the same beautiful trail. We finally found the replica waterwheel from the Percy mill.Our return to catch the bus involved traveling on a walkway next to a highway for a short distance, but we emerged at the train/bus hub and discovered we could take a train back into Wellington town centre.

Our first public transport train in NZ, and it was air-conditioned! A relief on a hot day after hiking!

The train terminus is at Wellington Central Station. It was completed and opened in 1937 so it incorporates the architecture of the era, grand “neo-Georgian” style.

The roof in the grand foyer.

The grand entrance, where we exited, to catch the #2 bus back to the car park!


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