Hawkins Hill radar station is an intriguing dome perched on the highest peak in Wellington’s southern hills. From various vantage points around greater Wellington, the radar station appears like a giant nipple (or a pimple – whatever you prefer) on the hilltop. The quickest walk to it starts at another Wellington landmark – the Brooklyn Wind Turbine, making this a great peak to take youngsters on.
|Location/List||North Island, New Zealand|
|Location Coordinates||41? 19′ 45″ S, 174? 43′ 33″ E|
From the Wellington inner city bypass (Karo Drive), follow the exit signs to Brooklyn and follow Brooklyn Rd all the way up the hill until it turns into Ohiro Rd. At the Brooklyn shops intersection, turn left up the steep Todman St, and then hard left again into Mitchell St. Then turn right into Karepa St and then left on to Ashton Fitcheet Dr. On the right you’ll see a road that branches up to your right, and this leads to the Brooklyn wind turbine. The route to the turbine is well signposted from the Brooklyn shops.
If you’re happy to add quite a lot of upwards walking to your trip, you can catch the No 7 bus to the Brooklyn shops (every 20 minutes, daily). Another option is the No 8 bus, which will get you a little closer, as it stops at the bottom of Ashton Fitchett Drive (hourly, mon-fri only). See MetLink.
This walk is close to Wellington’s CBD, so taking a taxi is also a good option.
Google Earth Map
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NZ Topographic Map
Our Recommended Route
At 495 m, Hawkins Hill is the highest point on the Wellington skyline when you look at it across the harbour from Petone. From Wellington CBD itself, the radar station is often obscured by other hills, but the starting point of the Brooklyn wind turbine can often be seen.
Luckily the drive up to the wind turbine takes away much of the climb, although plenty of people do walk up this road from Brooklyn. But if you’ve got bigger peaks to bag, you can cheat a little on this one and park at the wind turbine. After admiring the wind turbine and the associated information panels, return to the carpark and then start along the road past the gate.
For the first kilometre or so, you will skirt along aside the predator proof fence that encircles the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary. You can walk directly along the tracks beside the fence if you wish, though you might run into a few mountain bikers.
The walk from here is pretty simple – just keep following the sealed road towards the giant bubble on the hill, which you can see on most points along the walk. You will pass a strange looking castle type building, which is fiercely protected by dogs – yet another of the intriguing ‘sights’ on this walk!
Once you reach the radar station, you can either continue on and bag the slightly lower Te Kopahou (485 m) and/or return the way you came.
If you’re after an interesting full day loop walk, it should be possible to bag Hawkins Hill by starting at Owhiro Bay, walking out to Red Rocks & Sinclair Head, and then heading up the track to Te Kopahau (485 m). From here you could walk along the roadway to Hawkins Hill, and then taking the Tip Track back down to Ohiro Rd. On this circuit walk you would see the Red Rocks (formed by ancient pillow lava form undersea eruptions), WW2 bunkers, and the seal colony at Sinclair Head. On the flipside, you would miss seeing the Wind Turbine, and it is a more challenging walk (and as yet we have not comfirmed that it is even possible!).