“ Sightseeing Type: Parks / Gardens „
Mount Victoria is a 196m tall hill in the Eastern suburbs of New Zealand's capital city, Wellington. It offers unrivalled panoramic views out over the city and the top of the hill is the shooting location of many of the famous cityscape photographs advertising the city.
As well as being the name of the big hill, Mount Victoria is also the name of the adjoining suburb, which is largely but not entirely residential. It also lends its name to the Mount Victoria tunnel which runs through the hill itself and is the main way of getting to the airport, which is on the Miramar peninsula to the east.
===The Town Belt===
The wooded park area on the western face of the ridge forms part of Wellington's Town belt, a green reserve around the hills encircling Wellington that was set aside over 150 years ago to provide public park and woodland areas within the city. This area is crisscrossed with cycle and walking trails up the side of the hill. It really feels like you have left the big city, whereas in reality it is only a few hundred metres away.
It was in this woody area, almost exactly 10 years ago that the first shooting for Lord of the Rings took place. Several scenes were shot here, in various parts of the wood, with the most well known being the famous "Get off the road, quick!" scene and the mad dash to Buckleberry ferry as the hobbits are hunted by a black rider. The film locations are generally marked with small discrete signposts, though if you didn't have an expert who knew exactly where they were and what angle the shot was taken from, you would find it very hard to spot!
The houses in this suburb are laid out roughly in a grid manner. But as I found out when I tried to navigate through as if it were a straightforward grid, some of the roads have dead ends, which leads to embarrassing moments of having to fish out a map. My experience was that if any local spots you doing this, they come up to you and ask if you need help finding your way around and then proceed to ask you about how you like the country, where you are from etc. This suburb is quite wealthy compared with the rest of the town in terms of income, but it's more of a renting area for rich young couples than a family area.
===The geography of this area===
I always find it a little bit tricky to get my head around the geography of the Wellington region. It is famous for being at the very South of the North Island, yet when you are in the city, the sea is to your North and East, which is very counterintuitive if you haven't seen a detailed map. Of course, this is because the enormous Wellington Harbour loops around the Miramar peninsula, so that there is just a small spit of land sticking out. This spit means that if you leave the city by boat, you have to start off in a Northern direction, then do a big spiral loop round the Mount Wellington and Miramar areas in order to ultimately head South. From the top of Mount Victoria, this means you can see huge amounts of the sea and harbour - very stunning!
===Mount Wellington on Google Maps===
Much more of New Zealand is on Streetview than the UK. So if you go to google maps, you can have a wander around the roads of the area and imagine you are there yourself. Why not have your very own "Go into the bright light at the end of the tunnel" near death experience heading westward through the Mount Victoria tunnel? Imagine all the cars tooting their horns in unison.
You can drive (on roads with many hairpin bends) to reach the summit of the hill - I definitely recommend doing this if you visit the city. There are also buses that go up to the top of the hill fairly frequently. There is a car park at the lookout at the top. Stop here, then walk up to the summit, pausing to look at the cannon en route. Keep an eye out for the Byrd memorial while you are up there; this is a big pointy monument to the great explorer that is supposed to look like an expedition tent that antarctic explorers like Byrd would have had. The lookout area has recently been upgraded with a new viewing platform, new toilets and more information panels. You may also be able to get a cup of tea if a food van is up there like it was when I was there.
If you are in Wellington, come here to take your panoramic pictures of the city.
A fantastic hill and park in Wellington, NZ