Palmer Head on-leash walk

Quick Info

  • A paved path on the hill through Rangitatau Historic Reserve, with some excellent views
  • Suitable for pedestrians, but airport security vehicles may also use the road
  • Some great views
  • Parking is available on the roads at either end of the track

Table of Contents

  1. Quick Info
  2. Access
  3. Facilities
  4. Description
  5. Terrain
  6. Delights
  7. Dangers
  8. Cautions
  9. Road access
  10. Location
  11. Map
  12. Photo album

Access for wheelchairs, and pushchairs

  • The lower entrance off Ahuriri Street has a narrow gap through the fence for walkers and a low, wide gap in the fence that could allow bikes or pushchairs through. I’m not sure if it would suit anyone in a wheelchair. The top entrance off Birkhall Grove begins with a steep grassy path with some step-like boards but soon has actual steps down to the main paved track.


  • Rubbish bin: no
  • Toilets: no.
  • Seats: one, at the start of the path by the Ahuriri Street entrance.
  • Lighting at night: no.


Palmer Head on-leash walk through Rangitatau Historic Reserve is on Wellington’s South Coast, overlooking the airport, and Tarakena Bay, Wellington, New Zealand.

This is Airways land, and it holds monitoring stations and equipment for the airport. It’s also the site of a gun battery from World War 2.

At one point a small sign warns of low level electromagnetic radiation.

Ataturk Memorial from Palmer Head.

Ataturk Memorial from Palmer Head.

This walk looks down on the Ataturk Memorial off-leash area, and offers good views all around the South Coast, across the airport and towards the rest of Wellington, although the trees and scrub beside the path means the views are intermittent.

On our visit in August 2012 there were warnings to keep dogs on-leash on account of the traps for mustelids (weasels and ferrets), and as poison has been laid for rats.

The path’s an easy walk up and down the hill, and the top is very clearly higher than Ataturk Memorial. The old gun emplacements make it even more interesting. See Palmer Heads Fortress Area for some interesting history of the gun battery site. That page also links through to some old photos. The National Library also has an aerial photo from 1947.

Watch your feet as you walk as apparently some owners don’t see any need to pick up after their dogs.

On our visit I spotted what I think was a hawk circling one area near the path.


  • A steadily sloped paved path of reasonable quality


  • Views.
  • Greenery.
  • Because it’s paved it’s not soggy in wet weather.
  • Off Moa Point is the trial wave turbine power generator, visible from some of this walk as a few small orange dots in the sea. See Wave turbine in Wellington for more information.


  • Diphacinone rat poison. [Sign spotted on a visit in August 2012.]
  • Mustelid traps


  • This is a private road but on our visit in August 2012 we had to step aside for an airport security vehicle.
  • Rabbit and other similar poop.
  • Rubbish — by the lower entrance and around the gun emplacements is plenty of rubbish, including a great deal of broken glass.
  • Scary dog — a house next to the lower entrance has a very loud and large dog behind the fence.

Road access

Access by road or foot is easy, and there is some parking on the roads. The access points are from Ahuriri Road at the lower end and from Birkhall Grove (between #7 and #9) off Bowes Crescent at the top. Note: Bowes Crescent also gives access to the Ataturk Memorial off-leash area.

Interesting related links

See page 2 of this post for a photo album.

Location (see the map)

  • Latitude: -41.338959
  • Longitude: 174.8172


See [Palmer Head on Google Maps.]