Great Runs in Wellington, New Zealand

Karin Emanuelson
Jul 27, 2016 · 8 min read

Wellington is the capital and second largest city in New Zealand. It is located at the south-western tip of the North Island, between Cook Strait and the Rimutaka Range. The Wellington urban area comprises four cities: Wellington City, on the peninsula between Cook Strait and Wellington Harbour, contains the central business district and about half the population; Porirua on Porirua Harbour to the north is notable for its large Māori and Pacific Island communities; and Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt are largely suburban areas to the northeast, together known as the Hutt Valley.

One of the best ways to explore Wellington is on foot. The central city is only 1.25 miles (2 km) in diameter, meaning you can walk from one side to the other in under 20 minutes. If you want to venture outside the central city, Metlink has an easy to use journey planner to help you get anywhere within the Wellington region using buses, trains or ferries. Be sure to pick up a Snapper card from the Wellington i-SITE Visitor Information Centre — it’s the cheaper and faster way to pay.

Wellington has temperate marine climate. Quite sunny, and never too hot or cold. There are many windy days, and wind could be a factor in your running. Wellington rarely sees temperatures above 80 °F (25 °C) or below freezing. The city is notorious for its southerly blasts in winter, which may make the temperature feel much colder. It is generally very windy all year round with a good amount of rain (average annual of 49 in). June and July are the wettest months. Overall, the temperature is great for running year round but the wind could be your best friend or worst nightmare.

The Iconic Routes

  1. The Bays
  2. Botanic Gardens & Tinakori Hill
  3. Mt Victoria
  4. Zealandia
  5. Hutt River Trail feat. Lord of the Rings Sites
  6. Hutt River Trail Bridge Loop
  7. Te Whiti Park
  8. Pencarrow Lighthouse

The Routes

4.2 miles one way. Start: Queen’s Wharf MAP

Running along the bays is a classic lunchtime run for Wellington residents! Starting at Queen’s Wharf, follow the waterfront path pass Frank Kitts, past public servants munching their sandwiches, and on to the Oriental Parade, a trendy café zone. The path features brass mileage markers every 500 meters, so it is easy to follow and great for tempo runs. Follow this path around Point Jerningham to Evan’s Bay enjoying the bay views with each step. This path is flat, safe, and incredibly scenic, with great water views. For the serious runner, you can extend this route to follow the idyllic coast for 24 miles (MAP).

3.5 mile loop Start: Midland Park MAP

Wellington Botanic Garden features 62 acres of unique landscape, protected native forest, conifers, specialized plant collections, colorful floral displays, and views over Wellington city. This beautiful scenery, free entry and neighboring Tinakori Hill provide a great running route! Starting at Midland Park, meander your way through the Botanical Gardens and exit on Glenmore Street. From here, you have to kick it up a notch for your climb up Tinakori Hill (famous among the Wellington running community). Once you get to the top, the views will make your hard work worthwhile.

2.65 mile loop Start: Charles Plimmer Park MAP
3.0 mile loop that does not include the hill. MAP

Mount Victoria was one of many filming locations for the first movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It also has amazing views of Wellington and makes a great place for a hill run! Begin your run in Charles Plimmer Park on the Lookout Walkway. When you reach Pallister Road, turn right and wind your way along the road to the Mount Victoria Lookout. There are good views East and West of Mount Victoria along the route. Once you reach the summit, your hard work will be rewarded with a 360-degree view of Wellington City. To return to the start, continue on Lookout Rd until you reach the Southern Walkway.

For those of you that aren’t looking for a hill workout and still want to check out Mt. Victoria, check out this 3.0 mile loop.

5.8 miles loop. Start: George Denton Park MAP

Zealandia (formerly Karori Wildlife Sanctuary), while beautiful, has a significant entry fee if you are only going for a run. However, a beautiful 9K pathway lies just outside the fence! This pathway is known for its hills but rewards runners with a serene environment and excellent views! Starting in George Denton Park, go through the metal gate and follow the track until you meet the bird sanctuary fence. Turn left. Run along the fence, as the path rises slowly in short (but steep) hills. The highest point is marked by the tapu sign. Here, your hard work is rewarded with stunning views of the harbor and of the hills behind Wellington. As you continue to follow the fence, the path continues climbing and descending hills. Watch your footing, as the path changes from loose gravel to rutty clay.

6.5 mile out-and-back Start: Harcourt Park MAP

The Hutt River Trail is located about 30 minutes northeast of Wellington and runs for 18 miles (29 km) along the Hutt River. This flat, paved trail features two sites where The Lord of the Rings was filmed. Beginning in Harcourt Park, you will find the site of Isengard, the ancient Gondorian fortress at the southern end of the Misty Mountains, facing Rohan. As you continue along the river, you will find the site for The Great River Anduin between Moonshine and Totara Park. Turn around once you hit moonshine park to return to the start. Be wary, this trail is notoriously unsafe after dark however.

5.0 mile loop Start: Avalon Park MAP

If you are not interested in the Lord of the Rings sites, the Hutt River Trail provides many other great running opportunities. The trail runs on both sides of the river and there are nine bridges along the trail which offer many opportunities for short loops. One of the locals favorite loops begins at Avalon Park. Use Harcourt Werry Dr. to connect to the Hutt River Trail and follow the path for about 2.5 miles until you reach the Ewen Bridge. Cross over the river and loop back on the West side of the river. When you reach Kennedy Good Bridge, cross to return to the start. If you want to further explore this area, create your own route referencing this MAP. Be wary, this trail is notoriously unsafe after dark however.

2 miles one-way Start: Te Whiti Park

This brand new route, has already become popular among the local running community. Starting behind Te Whiti Park, this 2 mile path has an easy gradient and a wide well surfaced path. It meanders gently across the face of the Eastern Hills before arriving on the ridge rewarding you with great views of the bay and of Wellington. From the ridge, you can either return to the beginning the way you came or access established paths to Stokes Valley, Naenae, and the top of the Wainuiomata Hill. If you chose to extend your route use this interactive map to plan your route.

4.2 miles one-way Start: Burdens Gate MAP

Pencarrow Lighthouse stands at the entrance of the rocky coastline of Wellington Harbour. The lighthouse is no longer in service but still stands as a landmark of Wellington and a great day trip destination. At the road’s end, begin your run at Burden’s Gate in Eastbourne. Follow the path along the coastline to enjoy spectacular vistas and coastal winds. If your interested in learning more about the history of the lighthouse, stop to read the informational signage along the route. To reach the lighthouse, the path is mostly flat with a slight rise at the end along a narrow track up to the lighthouse. It is hard packed stone running for about 4.2 miles one way. No cars are allowed on this route so it is guaranteed to be quiet. If you are not quite up to this mileage, the route is still worth a visit even without reaching the lighthouse. Run for your preferred distance and enjoy views of the Wellington Harbor!


The majority of hotels are located within Wellington City with a few in Oriental Bay. This area of Wellington houses the National Archives, the National Art Gallery, the National Library, and the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. The Bays, Botanic Gardens, Mount Victoria and Zealandia routes are all accessible from these hotels. Other routes, along the Hutt River Trail and in Te Whiti Park are accessible by a car or Metlink (about 20 minute commute). Finally, the Pencarrow Lighthouse is about a 30 minute drive from Wellington City.

Stores and Group Runs

See running overview map for store locations. Green icons have group runs. Click on it for location, directions, and details on group runs.

Shoe Clinic Wellington Podiatrist available please contact for appointment. Group Runs Tuesday at 6:00.

Stirling Sports

Rebel Sport Te Aro

Athlete’s Foot Lower Hutt

Wellington Harrier Athletic Club

Hutt Valley Harriers Meet 1:30 on Saturdays during the winter season at the HVH clubrooms in Petone, Lower Hutt for club runs and walks.


Round the Bays February. 6.7K and Half Marathon. Round the Bays takes advantage of Wellington’s stunning inner city harbour.

Wellington Marathon June. Marathon, Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, and Kids Magic Mile.

Hutt News Fun Run March. 5K and 10K.

Wellington Waterfront 5K Sept — March. Every Tuesday enjoy Wellington’s beautiful waterfront and measure your progress.

Pelorus Trust Half Marathon Sept. Half Marathon, 10km, 5km Fun Run and the ‘Cool Kid’s Kilometre’.

Pencarrow Lighthouse Fun Runs May. 5K, 10K and Half Marathon run.

There are plenty other events, see them here.

Great Runs

Ultimate Guide to the Best Places to Run in the World's Major Cities and Destinations. @greatruns by Mark Lowenstein

Karin Emanuelson

Written by

Great Runs

Ultimate Guide to the Best Places to Run in the World's Major Cities and Destinations. @greatruns by Mark Lowenstein

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