Leg 3 – Burdan’s Gate to Seaview

9.5 kilometres
2 hrs 45 mins (walk)
35 mins (cycle)
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The third leg of the Great Harbour Way begins at Burdan’s Gate in Korohiwa Bay, and finishes at Seaview Marina at the eastern end of Petone.

Maori are believed to have settled Wellington’s eastern bays in the fifteenth century, with one tribe supplanting the other over time. There is evidence of habitation throughout the bays, including here at Korohiwa, although the extent of settlement is thought to have been limited to sparsely populated fishing areas and the occasional pa. These settlements were largely displaced by the time the first Europeans arrived – whalers and traders, followed soon after by pioneer farmers.

Set off along Muritai Drive – on the footpath or on the beach. [CYCLISTS: there’s no established cycleway, so ride carefully along the road.] Leaving Korohiwa, the first point passed is Point Arthur, complete with water-pumping station. That big crag ahead is Lion’s Rock, marking the entrance to Robinson Bay. Follow the footpath that peels off to seaward  – the Promenade, which connects to Marine Parade. [CYCLISTS: you may use this path with care.]

Robinson Bay is one of the largest of the eastern bays, and its flat residential area is known as Muritai, which means ‘sea breeze’. From here,you get the best possible view of Makaro/Ward Island. Look out for Heketara Street: during the Second World War, an anti-submarine defence wall, consisting of a fence of piles, was built from this point out to the island, a total of 1.8 kilometres. Walking along the wall was forbidden, ‘but anyone with the necessary bravado could do it’. It’s long gone, so I guess you’ll never know …

Marine Drive comes to a brief halt at the Karamu Road car park. Rejoin it by crossing the sand dunes, or walk through the Shortt Recreation Ground. [CYCLISTS: cycle with care on the path beside the recreation ground, or go down Karamu Street, left into Oroua Street, and left again into Makaro Street.]

Continue along the parade. Ahead is historic Rona Bay Wharf, serving (or at least it used to) Eastbourne Village. There’s plenty to do in the village – galleries, cafes and a good pub. Alongside the wharf, Bishop Park is a good place for a picnic.

There are popular bush walks into the hills from here to Butterfly Creek, and behind Williams Park in Days Bay, and in Lowry Bay.

From the wharf, walkers can take the dune path, while cyclists should keep going along Marine Parade.

As you pass Windy Point and enter Days Bay, walkers and cyclists can use a lane on the seaward side of the narrow road most of the way to Seaview. At some points this path has poles separating it from the traffic, at others just paint.

Days Bay is the heart of Eastbourne and the destination of the cross-harbour East by West Ferry. It makes a delightful stop, with good swimming, excellent cafes, and a pier perfect for leaping off. Williams Park and pavilion across the road has ice cream, tearoom treats and cafe-style dining. The leisurely atmosphere of Days Bay harks back to the days when Eastbourne was known as ‘Wellington’s playground’ – a place for picnics and holidays. Starting in the 1850s, thousands flocked here for a weekend or the whole summer, as cross-harbour steamers and ferries plied the route with vigour. At the turn of the nineteenth century, famous Wellington writer Katherine Mansfield spent many of her childhood summers at the bay. More than 20 years later, suffering from tuberculosis in Europe, Mansfield revisited these carefree days in her classic story, ‘At the Bay’.

Leaving Days Bay, keep to the beach or the shared cycle/walking lane on the seaward side of the road. (Confident cyclists may prefer to keep to the road space to avoid conflicts with pedestrians).

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Downes Point marks the entry into Sunshine Bay. Walkers can take the beach where the tide allows.

The next bay is Mahina, known until the early 1990s as Portuguese Joe’s Bay, supposedly named after Joseph Silver who shipped firewood from here to Wellington in the mid 1800s. It remained largely unsettled until well into the twentieth century.

York Bay, a similarly late developer, was first settled by two Yorkshire brothers who tried their hand at dairy farming. One of them, Frederick Crowther, was reputed to operate a whisky still, the produce of which he shipped across to Wellington: ‘striding up from the shore with a can in each arm – one containing milk, the other whisky’. Neither venture could have been particularly profitable, as the brothers soon left the bay. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the bay was sub-divided by land agents and sold off in 72 lots.

Lowry Bay is next – named after Richard Lowry, a mate on the Tory, an early migrant ship. The Maori name for the bay was Whiorau (‘the place of many blue ducks’), and indeed this area was once a swamp. In the 1840s, though, in a not-unusual fashion, early European settlers drained the swamp, and set to with a box of matches, clearing much of the bush for pasture in a matter of a few years. The 1.5-metre uplift resulting from the 1855 earthquake further altered the landscape, and allowed the sub-dividers of the early 1900s to capitalise.

Sorrento Bay is the last bay before Point Howard (the site of the Seaview Wharf – public access, sadly, denied). The Maori name for this point was Ngaumatau (‘bite the fish hook’), and was renamed after Philip Howard, a member of parliament in the 1840s. Until the 1855 earthquake, the point was passable only at low tide, and travellers had to make a lengthy diversion over the summit. The earthquake raised a ledge, as it did around the entire harbour fringe, making travelling to, and settling the eastern bays a great deal easier.

After Point Howard you’ll see the Seaview Marina on your left. Look out for a cycle/walking path leading into the carpark, and connecting to Port Road, where this leg of the Great Harbour Way ends.

Toilets Burdan’s Gate
Shortt Recreation Ground, Robinson Bay
Rona Bay Wharf or Bishop Park, Eastbourne Village
Williams Park, Days Bay
Point Howard
Public transport Metlink (bus services), tel 0800-801-7000
East by West Ferry, tel 499-1282
Eastbourne Taxi Company, tel 562-7554
Hutt & City Taxis, tel 570-0057
Accommodation Hutt City Visitor Accommodation Information
Useful contacts East Harbour Regional Park
Burdan’s Gate and Day’s Bay Bike Hire, City Boat and Bike Sheds tel 562 7077 (Burdan’s Gate) 562 8150 (Day’s Bay)
Hutt City Visitor Information