Queen Elizabeth Park walk New Zealand

Learn how to get to and see a video of Queen Elizabeth Park in New Zealand for nice views of Kapiti Island and an early morning stroll on the beach.

Queen Elizabeth Park is the last area of natural dunes on the Kapiti Coast that stretches between Raumati in the north and Paekakariki in the south.

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Queen Elizabeth Park was named after Queen Elizabeth II and was opened in 1953.

The park is a joy to walk in on a gorgeous day. The beach sand and seawater look particularly inviting on sunny days between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. when the sun is at its highest.

Queen Elizabeth Park is a well-maintained park that has many recreation facilities. The main trails are wide with no potholes or challenging sections. However, you may find challenging and less well-maintained sections on minor trails.

Popular activities in the park include swimming, fishing, walking, cycling, horseback riding, and picnicking.

How to get to Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park is one of the farthest parks from Wellington, but it is well worth a visit. It is located north of a small town called Paekakariki. The closest larger town to it is Paraparaumu, which lies in the Greater Wellington Region.

The main entrance of Queen Elizabeth Park is at MacKays Crossing off State Highway 1. It gives access to the central part of the park, Whareroa Beach, and the surrounding dunes.

However, you can also access the park from the northern end via The Esplanade in Raumati or from the southern end via Wellington Road in Paekakariki.

Kapiti Island as seen from a lookout in Queen Elizabeth Park on the North Island of New Zealand

Kapiti Island seen from Queen Elizabeth Park

The walk described here starts at the Paekakariki entrance. The easiest way to get there is by driving or by catching a train and then walking.

If you are going by car, get onto State Highway 1 from Wellington, and follow signs to Paekakariki/Queen Elizabeth Park South Entrance.

After crossing the train tracks, turn right onto Wellington Road, and drive straight until you reach the park entrance. There is a parking lot near the first 4-way junction after you enter Queen Elizabeth Park.

If you are going by train, catch the Kapiti Line train from Wellington to Waikanae, and get off at Paekakariki Station. The travel time by train is approximately 46 minutes and costs $10.50 one-way. You can check Metlink for the most recent fares and timetables for trains.

After you get off the train at Paekakariki Station, continue walking on the platform in the direction the train was riding until you can see a parking lot on your left. Cross the train tracks to get to the parking lot, and then follow Tilley Road until you reach Cecil Road on your left. Go onto Cecil Road, and then right onto Wellington Road. Continue walking straight on Wellington Road until you reach the park entrance.

The walking distance to the park entrance from the train station is about 1.5 km (0.9 mi) one-way and takes about 18 minutes to walk.

Walking in Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park can be divided into a northern section and a southern section with Whareroa Beach in the middle.

Sign for the Paekakariki Coastal Track in Queen Elizabeth Park on the North Island of New Zealand

Paekakariki Coastal Track sign in Queen Elizabeth Park

The northern section lies between the Raumati entrance and Whareroa Beach, and the southern section lies between Whareroa Beach and the Paekakariki entrance.

The walk described here starts at the Paekakariki entrance in the south. There are two main trails that run from north to south: the Coastal Track and the Inland Track.

The walk described here follows both trails to create a loop that provides variety and enables you to enjoy views from higher ground.

From the park entrance at the end of Wellington Road, walk straight in through the gate under the Queen Elizabeth Park arch, and continue following the road. You should see a sign for Paekakariki Holiday Park on your right and a picnic area with tables and toilets on your left.

There is also an information panel in the picnic area near the road. Grab a brochure if there are any available at the information panel, and then continue walking.

You will reach a second gate and cross the Wainui Stream via the road. About 3 minutes after starting the walk, you will arrive at a junction where there are more toilets on your right.

If you go right at this junction, you can join the Yankee Trail. If you go left, you can walk to the start of the Coastal Track. Continue walking straight ahead.

As you are walking along the road, you may see several signs with numbers on them. Pass number 7 on your right, 9 on your left, and 8 on your right.

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The road will start to climb, and you should see a bar and a signpost on your right. Skip that trail, and continue following the road.

Once the road stops climbing, you will reach a junction where there is a sign that says, MacKays Crossing Inland Track 30 min.

It should take you about 4 minutes after passing the first major junction to reach this point. Here is where you must hook off and follow the trail – the Inland Track – on your right.

The trail is a gravel trail that is in very good condition. After about one minute, you should see a junction on your right. Skip the grassy trail on your right, and continue walking straight ahead on the main gravel trail.

About 2 minutes thereafter, you should see a signpost and another minor trail on your left. Skip that trail too. After another minute, you should see yet another grassy trail going off to the left. Just continue following the main gravel trail. Do not worry if you hook off onto the wrong trail to the left, since they all eventually lead to the Coastal Track.

The trail climbs a bit, becomes grassy, and you will pass a bench on your left. The views of Kapiti Island are limited. On the Inland Trail, you will mostly see grassy hills that lie east of the park. It is a very peaceful area.

Once you reach higher ground after passing the grassy section, you should get back onto a mostly gravel trail and see yet another junction with two signposts about 2 minutes after passing the last junction. Here you can go either to the left or to the right. Skip both grassy trails, and continue walking straight ahead.

The trail levels off a bit, and about 2 minutes after the last junction, you should reach a triangular junction where there is a signpost on your left and another one a bit further ahead.

Looking toward Mana Island from Queen Elizabeth Park on the North Island of New Zealand

Looking toward Mana Island from Queen Elizabeth Park

Here is where you should get off the Inland Track and go left. It should take you about 8 minutes to reach this point after starting to follow the Inland Track.

The trail is grassy, a bit sandy in some areas, and climbs quite steeply uphill.

It should not take too long – about 3 minutes – to reach the top where you can get nice views of Kapiti Island on your right, Mana Island in the distance on your left, and the beach below. This is a nice spot to take a photo or two.

Note that you can get a much better view of Mana Island if you do the Colonial Knob walk.

After enjoying the views, continue walking down the trail. You will soon reach a junction with the Coastal Track where there is a signpost. It should take you about 7 minutes in total to walk from the Inland Track to the Coastal Track via this minor trail or 22 minutes from the start of the walk to reach this point. Once you reach the Coastal Track, go right.

Shortly after starting to walk on the Coastal Track, you should see a grassy trail going off to the left toward the beach. Follow this trail to briefly visit the beach and get some photos there. When you are done, retrace your steps back to the Coastal Track, and go left.

From this point onward, continue following the main gravel trail and ignore any minor trails that may pop up on your right. The trail will continue skirting the coast for a while before it heads inland and up to a parking lot where there is a sign that says, Paekakariki Coastal Track 45 min.

It should take you about 17 minutes after leaving the beach and getting back onto the Coastal Track or 39 minutes after starting the walk via the Inland Track to get to this point. If you look right, you will see a sign for the Inland Track. Ignore that sign for now. Go left to follow the road that goes down to the main road that leads to Whareroa Beach.

Sand dunes in Queen Elizabeth Park on the North Island of New Zealand

Sand dunes in Queen Elizabeth Park

Once you reach the junction with the main road, you will see some tram rails on the other side of the road and a trail beyond the rails.

That trail is the northern section of the Inland Track. Ignore that trail for now, and just follow the road that goes left.

It should take you about 8 minutes from the last parking lot to reach a parking lot where there is an information panel, several picnic areas, and toilets.

Continue following the road that curves to the right toward a second parking lot where you will see a sign that points straight ahead and says, Coastal Track to Raumati 1.6 km, 30 min. This sign also points to the right and says, Inland Track to Raumati 2.2 km, 45 min. Go left onto the Coastal Track.

There are bars preventing entry, but you can pass them at the side. Soon thereafter, you will cross the Whareroa Stream via a boardwalk. Continue walking.

It should take you about 10 minutes after leaving the parking lot to reach a junction where you can go right to cross over to the Inland Track. There is also a bench nearby where you can sit down and enjoy the view. This part of the trail comes closest to the beach so offers good opportunities for photos.

There is a sign at the junction that indicates that it takes 20 minutes (1 km; 0.6 mi) to walk to Raumati, 10 minutes (0.5 km; 0.3 mi) to walk back to Whareroa Beach, and 10 minutes (0.5 km; 0.3 mi) to walk to the Inland Track.

After the junction, the trail continues skirting the coast until it heads inland. The scenery is more of the same, so at the junction, go right to cross over to the Inland Track.

Kapiti Island as seen from Whareroa Beach in Queen Elizabeth Park

Kapiti Island from Whareroa Beach in Queen Elizabeth Park

This minor trail ascends to a high viewpoint where there is a bench you can sit down on and enjoy the views. It then descends to join the Inland Track, which should take 10 minutes to reach via this minor trail.

At the bottom, you will arrive at a junction where there is a sign on your right, pointing in the direction of the Inland Track and Whareroa Beach (0.8 km; 15 min) and Raumati (1.4 km; 30 min). When you reach this junction, follow the arrow in the direction of Whareroa Beach, so go right.

Continue following the gravel trail back to the main road to Whareroa Beach. On the way back to the junction, you should see an interesting tree standing all alone and pass an area where you may see model planes flying in the air. It should take you about 11 minutes to reach the junction between the parking lots. The total walking time up to this point would be one hour and 18 minutes.

Cross the main road at the junction, and walk up the road that leads to the parking lot you arrived at earlier when you got off the southern section of the Coastal Track, but instead of going right to get back onto the Coastal Track, go left to get onto the Inland Track.

There are some bars that prevent entry, but you can pass them at the side. There is also a sign on the right side saying, Paekakariki via Inland Track.

Walk up the road. Soon it will veer off to the right, but before it does, you should see a trail and a sign saying, Paekakariki inland track 40 mins, which you should reach about 8 minutes after leaving the junction behind you. Follow that trail.

The trail starts out level, but soon you will be walking on sections that ascend a bit. These sections are not long enough to get you very tired, though. About 8 minutes from the sign, you should see a bench where you can sit down and enjoy views of Kapiti Island straight ahead and Mana Island to the left.

After leaving the bench, the trail curves left and right before it climbs up to higher ground where you can enjoy views of the sea.

Coastal Track to Raumati in Queen Elizabeth Park on the North Island of New Zealand

Coastal Track to Raumati in Queen Elizabeth Park

About 9 minutes after leaving the lookout, you will arrive at a junction where you can go right to join the Coastal Track or straight ahead to continue walking on the Inland Track. Continue walking on the Inland Track.

After about another 7 minutes, you should reach the junction you arrived at earlier to cross over to the Coastal Track. From this point, you can walk over to the Coastal Track again and walk back to Paekakariki or continue following the Inland Track to reach the road again.

If you decide to continue following the Inland Track to finish the walk, retrace your steps back to the junction with the road. When you get back on the road, go left and retrace your steps back to the park entrance. The total walking time would come to 2 hours and 5 minutes.

If you decide to cross over to the Coastal Track at the junction on the way back, it would take 7 minutes to cross over, then you must go left at the junction with the Coastal Track and walk 8 minutes to reach the road.

After reaching the road, you can continue walking straight ahead and follow the road back to the 4-way junction. It should take you about 12 minutes to get to the 4-way junction from the start/end of the Coastal Track. The total walking time via this route would come to 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Basic info for the Queen Elizabeth Park walk

Trail length: 7.5 – 8 km (4.7 – 5 mi) loop from Wellington Road in Paekakariki (southern entrance)
Walking time: 2 hours and 30 minutes loop
Difficulty: Easy to medium
Trail type: Signposted coastal trail with a mixture of gravel, dirt, and beach sand.
Trail condition: Good
Fitness level: Moderate. The trail has some parts that climb, but because they are not long, you do not need a high level of fitness to be able to walk the trail.
Best time to walk: You can visit Queen Elizabeth Park any time of the year, but summer offers the best weather as well as a better position of the sun to photograph Kapiti Island. However, the entire trail is completely exposed and the sun is harsh in summer, so it can make the walk feel unpleasant. Summer is also the season that the park is expected to be at its busiest. Flowers tend to give off a nice fragrance along the trail during late spring and summer, and there are also pohutukawa trees in the park, which should be in bloom in November and December, so those may be the most suitable months to enjoy seeing flowers in the park.

You may want to consider visiting the park on a sunny day to enjoy the beach and the views of Kapiti Island.

The park is said to be open from 8 a.m. to dusk, but because there are no barriers for pedestrians, you could theoretically speaking walk on the beach at any time of the day. Morning hours are best for light on Kapiti Island unless you want a sunset photo.
What you’ll see: A long beach, Kapiti Island, Mana Island in the far distance, and hills.

You can see and download a map for Queen Elizabeth Park from the Greater Wellington Regional Council website.

Video of the Queen Elizabeth Park walk

The following 3-minute video gives you an impression of what to expect on this coastal walk near Paekakariki, 45 minutes north of Wellington City on the North Island of New Zealand.

 

Note: Walking tracks and trails can be changed or get closed. The information presented here was accurate when it was gathered.

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