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Johnston Hill Loop, Wellington

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Johnston Hill LoopBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Richele McKenzie

Info Info
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Trail Information







Urban fringe


Undulating, some big hills

Native bush
Plantation/exotic forest
Open farmlands
Open ridges/tops

Beginner - Intermediate

0:50 (Slow)
0:40 (Moderate)
0:25 (Fast)



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Another Wellington must-do run consisting of native bush (and wonderful birdsong), open farmland and exotic forest.

If you start at the main entrance follow the Loop Track to the left (signposted as Circular Walk). When you get to the intersection take the trail uphill towards the summit but after the first set of steps there is the opportunity to follow gentle loops up to the top rather than going straight up all the steps. Make sure you stop at the top to appreciate the views. It's a great spot to watch the sunset (take your headlamp!).

Then head downhill a little, climb over the gate and go straight across the farmland. The sign says Chartwell / Mt Kaukau (do not turn left after the gate). You will be able to see the Skyline Walkway below you. This pleasant little farm stretch comes to an intersection. Take the right hand turn downhill towards Otari-Wilton's Bush / Cemetery track. Soon after crossing the cattle grate you get to another intersection. Take the right hand track towards the cemetery and follow the trail downhill, through native bush then pines.

Continue until you almost pop out at the Cemetery, but take the right hand trail instead and skirt around the edge. Just after crossing a little creek go up and take the right hand track then take the next right hand track and run half way up Johnston Hill (Hauraki Track). You will come out at the first intersection again. This time take the Penlington Track back down to the carpark.

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Features of interest

"Bush remnants at this reserve are part of a highly significant native ecosystem in the Outer Green Belt. Johnston Hill was named after John Johnston, who arrived in Wellington in 1843 and later bought the land from the first pakeha owner, Judge Chapman. It was officially opened as a public recreation domain in 1942".(Wellington City Council website)

Make Up of Run

Moderate Single Track: 30%

Easy Single Track: 60%

Farm Road / 4WD Track: 10%

Route Data


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Overlapping Runs

The following trails overlap with this run to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate Strava activity for each


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  • Access

    The trail starts at the Johnston Hill Scenic Reserve, up the driveway at the end of Hatton Street. It can also be accessed from Hauraki Street or the western end of Karori Cemetery (via Standen Street).

    There is a large carpark (Fletcher's Lookout) at the start. If you're worried about leaving a car here (it's quite secluded) then park along Hatton Street. You can also get a No 2 bus to Karori and walk to the start.

    5 km

    10 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    From Johnston Hill you're mostly doing right hand turns in order to complete the loop. As you're skirting alongside the cemetery avoid the track that goes uphill to the right. It will take you back up to Johnston Hill but isn't as pleasant.

    Perfect throughout.

    Short-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.

    The closest drinking fountains are in the Cemetery, but none available along the trail.

    The cows on the farmland can get a little grumpy during pregnancy and when their calves are young. Keep dogs on lead at all times.
    Exposed to winds along the farmland section.

    There are numerous rabbit holes along the farmland stretch. Take care not to roll an ankle.
    Muddy in places during the winter and after rain. There are a few sections of bush trail when the track has subsided a little.

  • Post run indulgence

    Powerhouse Juice and Espresso Bar
    156 Karori Road, Karori, Wellington.
    Great smoothies, juices and coffees.

    One Fat Bird
    162 Karori Road, Karori, Wellington
    Good craft beer selection.

    Penny's Deli
    282 Karori Road, Karori, Wellington
    A bit further down the road but the food is worth it!

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