Last Updated: 20th May 2024

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done

Johnston Hill Loop

Wellington, Wellington

Submitted by Richele McKenzie

Last Updated: 20th May 2024

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 8 ?

Gnarl Factor: 31 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Urban fringe


Undulating, some big hills

Dog Friendly

Native bush

Plantation/exotic forest

Open farmlands

Open ridges/tops

Run Makeup


Farm Road / 4WD Track

Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +15.5%

Average Downhill Gradient: -14.0%


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Estimated Times to Run







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.

This trail includes the peak Johnston Hill.

"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)

There is a public toilet within the cemetery, near the main entrance.

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




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.

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!

Trail Legend

Tony Sharpe

Tony Sharpe

has completed Johnston Hill Loop once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Great little trail with a good variety of terrain...native bush, forest, open hill lands. Great views both sides as you get up high. Very accessible and with a decent amount of vertical gain over such a small loop. There are a couple of key trail intersections that could send you the wrong way so stay alert!

David Hosking

October 20, 2023

How can this only have a grunt factor of 8? There's a lot of elevation in such a short loop so don't be fooled - this is a decent workout!

Joe Benbow

November 16, 2020

Perfect grunt wee loop. Everything great about Wellington trails here. And kaka!

Tony Sharpe

October 11, 2020

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