Last Updated: 20th May 2024

Beginner - Intermediate

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Seeking Sanctuary

Wellington, Wellington

Submitted by Joe Benbow

Last Updated: 20th May 2024

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done

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Grunt Factor: 12 ?

Gnarl Factor: 21 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Urban fringe


Undulating, small hills only

Native bush

Run Makeup


Sealed Road

Easy Single Track

Average Uphill Gradient: +11.4%

Average Downhill Gradient: -12.5%


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Estimated Times to Run







Many don't think of going to Zealandia for a run, but it's an absolute treasure and a wonderful place to spend any time in. The slower and quieter you are on this run, the more you will get out of it. The sounds of kaka, tui and saddlebacks follow you around, piwakawaka flit along behind you, and you may be fortunate enough to see more exotic species such as takahe, tuatara and even kiwi if you're there at dusk.

There is a fee to pay however - well worth it to support this amazing project and have the privilege of running here. Find out more here.

From the entrance, start running up the sealed Lake Road, then turn left onto Valley View Track. Follow this up through the bush for about 1.8k, ignoring the other turnoffs, until you get to Fantail Track on the left. Take this one up, then turn right when it joins Pylon Track and heads down again.

You'll soon join Round the Lake Track, turn left here and follow it over the stream and up until it joins Turbine Track. Turn left and continue heading up, past the bird-feeders and tuatara hotspot to the next junction.

Keep left here (marked Emergency Exit) and the track takes you up to the fenceline Perimeter Track. Turn right and follow the fence up the hill to bring you out at the Brooklyn Wind Turbine (the highest point in the reserve), with spectacular views back across the valley. Once you've caught your breath, head down Turbine Track and this time turn left onto Tui Glen Track, which meanders down to the valley floor, bringing you out onto Faultline Track.

Turn right and follow this track down to a T-junction where a right turn will take you to the Upper Dam. Head across the dam for some more great views of the lakes, then follow the sign for the swingbridge.

Once you've crossed the bridge, head down the Beech Tracks back down to Lake Road, then take a quick left and right down onto Te Mahanga Track. Follow this down, keeping left whenever there is a turnoff and it will take you through the wetlands area where you are likely to encounter takahe, then the pontoon where you get a great view of the resident shags.

Finally, head up the stairs, turn left and it's a short 300m along Lake Rd back to the start.

ZEALANDIA is the world’s first fully-fenced urban ecosanctuary, with an extraordinary 500-year vision to restore a Wellington valley’s forest and freshwater ecosystems as closely as possible to their pre-human state. The 225 hectare (500+ acre) ecosanctuary is a groundbreaking conservation project that has reintroduced 18 species of native wildlife back into the area, some of which were previously absent from mainland New Zealand for over 100 years.

There are toilets available in the main sanctuary building.

Plenty of safe parking available at the entrance and overflow at the bottom of Birdwood St. If taking a Karori bus, get off at the bottom of Birdwood St (just after the Karori tunnel) and walk down Waiapu Rd. There is also a free shuttle bus from the city i-SITE and top of the cable car at weekends.

3 km

6 minutes




Perfect throughout.

Short-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, First aid kit, Cellphone, Map

This route doesn't pass any water fountains so fill up at the visitor centre before you start

As it's in a valley, it is generally pretty sheltered. Tracks can be muddy/slippery in places

Rata Cafe
At the visitor centre
Convenient as it's right at the start/finish

Trail Legend

Richele McKenzie

Richele McKenzie

has completed Seeking Sanctuary once in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Wow - what a great trail....! Beautiful native bush trails, a bit overgrown at the top of the Turbine trail - particularly along the fenceline. It had been raining and so was pretty mucky in places, making running fast almost impossible for fear of slipping. Massive amounts of bird song - particularly Kakas....absolutely stunning.

David Hosking

March 7, 2023

Awesome trail thanks Joe! Lovely bush tracks and a stunning view from the top. Saw a tuatara on my way back down. Valley View was closed for a few days this week so I checked via Zealandia’s Facebook messenger before going back today. A smaller track was closed but it was easy enough to take another track and meet up with the trail again. Loved running across the dam. Bear in mind you will need to dodge groups of sightseers during weekends and school holidays.

Richele McKenzie

October 1, 2020

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