Pencarrow Coastal Trail in Eastbourne

After reading a friend’s account of cycling the trail to the Pencarrow Lighthouse recently — Eastbourne – Pencarrow Head and Lakes – June 2012 — I decided to walk the dogs along part of the trail before possibly cycling it myself.

From Burdan’s Gate carpark at the end of Muritai Road follow the metal Pencarrow Coast Road south along the rugged windswept coast.  Watch out for the occasional quarry truck on weekdays. Vehicle traffic is restricted for other than park management or access to private property. The Pencarrow Coast Road is owned and managed by Hutt City Council.

Dogs must be on a leash to protect wildlife nesting habitat and grazing livestock. Dogs are not allowed south of the hill track to the lighthouse. Please note that from 1 August to 30 September each year (lambing season) dogs are not allowed on the Pencarrow Coast Road.

[Via Parangarahu Lakes Area » Greater Wellington Regional Council.]

The little dogs and I set off one Sunday in July 2012 to explore.

Burdan’s Gate carpark

The end of Muritai road is at Burdan’s Gate carpark, around 2.8 Km from where it intersects with Rimu Road at the main Eastbourne shopping centre. It’s only a few hundred metres from the bus terminus where there are also public toilets. There is also a Wahine Memorial nearby.

Burdan’s Gate has some grass, benches, loads of rubbish bins, a dozen or more parking spaces and an informational notice.

A sealed road continues for a few hundred metres before there’s a locked gate across the road, allowing access only for those vehicles with permission to enter.

A gate blocks the road for vehicles, while a half-round allows pedestrian and cyclist access.

A gate blocks the road for vehicles, while a half-round allows pedestrian and cyclist access. The prominent blue sign reminds us to keep our dogs on-leash or face a stiff fine.

Strict on-leash area

At the locked gate is a prominent sign advising that dogs must be on leash to protect wildlife and stock, and there are stiff penalties for disobeying.

The road is fine for walking or cycling

Pass through the small half-round pedestrian gate to access the Pencarrow Coast Road.

The road then follows the coastline for some distance.

On our Sunday visit we walked around 45 minutes and then turned round and went back again. The road seemed quite busy, with one car, a dozen or so walkers or runners, and maybe a dozen cyclists, including several parties of adults and children. We only met or saw a couple of other dogs though, one running on-leash with a couple of cyclists.

The road itself is wide enough for one car with some leeway, and is surfaced with a thin coating of shingle or sometimes sand. The ground underneath is solid, but there are also a fair few potholes to watch out for.

Pencarrow Coast Road, looking South.

Pencarrow Coast Road, looking South.

Coastal delights

This walk put me in mind of Makara, although much better paved. There are hills and rocky cliffs to one side, covered in gorse, taupeta and various other bushes. We even spotted a wild goat.

There are plenty of coastal birds on and around the beach, and the beach itself is plentifully covered in shells from paua, mussels and other sea creatures.

We didn’t see any seals, but I wouldn’t have been at all surprised to come across some.

The day we visited was calm, and overcast with interesting clouds. I can imagine things would be very wild with strong winds or swells though.

Harbour views

The walk gives an excellent perspective on Wellington Harbour, with views across to the main parts of town.

Walking South also takes you towards the Harbour Entrance and on the right kind of day you may see the South Island in the distance. When we visited the snowy tops of some of the South Island mountains were gleaming in the sun beneath the cloud.

Although we missed seeing any of the ferries, there was also plenty of activity on the water.

An enjoyable on-leash walk

I found this walk really enjoyable, with the birdlife, the wild coast, the scrubby bushes and the views. I’m pretty sure the dogs enjoyed all the new smells.

There are no streetlights here, but it’s a great place for a daytime walk that can be as long or as short as you like. According to the site quoted above It takes about 2 hours to walk from Burdan’s Gate to the base of the Lighthouse Track. It seems you can’t take dogs beyond that point, but that should be a fair walk for most dogs.

This is a good flat walk on an easy road. With the beach, birds, harbour, boats, hills, planes, driftwood and occasional goat there’s plenty of interesting things to look at.

Well worth a visit, but do check the wind and tide.

See the next page for a photo album from our walk.