The bright green water of Hutt River flowing through Kaitoke Regional Park in Upper Hutt. © Anna Gorin

Loved by the locals: Upper Hutt

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1. Go with the flow

One of the best things about the Hutt Valley, in general, is that a river runs through it, and quite probably the best place to experience the Hutt River is at Kaitoke Regional Park, 12km to the north of the Upper Hutt CBD. There is a relaxed, coldwater campground there, and besides the expected range of riverine activities – swimming, fishing, rafting, kayaking – you can go picnicking, horseriding, mountain biking, hunting, tramping or just plain chilling.

A post shared by miaoshao (@stephenmiao) on Jun 6, 2018 at 2:49am PDT

2. So inclined 

Ask anyone what outdoor activities they’ll recommend in the Wellington region and they’ll likely name cycling the Remutaka Incline, the 18-km route by which rail formerly linked the Hutt Valley and the Wairarapa.

It’s best tackled from the Hutt side, because after a gentle climb from the carpark, it’s an exhilarating downhill pretty much all of the way from the summit, taking in tunnels, streams and the site of a whole actual vanished township, Cross Creek, en route.

So popular is the ride (and walk) that a shuttle service operates. Take a torch, and if (as occasionally happens in the Wellington region) the winds are high, consider postponing your trip.

3. In memoriam

With acres of open space, access to the track that runs the length of the Hutt River, two gorgeous tracts of native bush, a superb playground (set to become even better, with an upgrade underway) and the region’s best golf course, Trentham Memorial Park is the kind of civic amenity that other cities would kill for. It commemorates those who served in New Zealand’s campaigns in the First and Second World Wars, many of whom departed from the nearby Military Camp. TMP is the site of Upper Hutt City’s annual fireworks display and the Summer Carnival, but at any time of year, it’s a place to play – if not the place to play.

This is just beautiful. . . . . #wellingtonnz #chill #nature #naturetrail #river #explore #protect #wilderness

A post shared by Alex Mort (@mort_photography_) on Apr 16, 2017 at 11:53pm PDT

4. Boganville

Mixing hydrocarbons and adrenaline can be hazardous to your health unless it’s done in the controlled context of a speedway.

Te Marua, just north of Upper Hutt city, is petrolhead heaven.

Whether it’s some form of stock or saloon car racing or witnessing the Viking funeral of old dungers that inspires you, this is the only place in Wellington to get a fix. The Wellington Family Speedway offers entertainment for all ages and attitudes to automotive cruelty.

Fireworks, Minisprints and Free Glowsticks... What could be better! #wellingtonspeedway

A post shared by Wellington Speedway (@wellingtonspeedway) on Nov 26, 2017 at 4:02pm PST

5. Stag(lands) party

New Zealanders have ex-pat Englishman John Simister to thank for Staglands, the 25-acre wildlife park that he established in the 1970s to showcase interesting and endearing animals, as well as assist in the conservation of a number of endangered species. Staglands has grown into a national treasure and is without compare for a family day out. It’s a short-ish drive into the Akatārawa Valley from Upper Hutt township and as good a chance as you’ll ever get to be up close and personal with domestic, semi-domestic and even wild animals. The lawn beside the river is a top spot for a picnic in summer and you can even swim.

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Up the creek: Upper Hutt

The main feature of the district, of course, is the river. Not only does it look good, but the quality of the water is excellent, too.  Read the story . . . 

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Porirua: the town of unintended consequences

Porirua sprawls from Tawa in the south, all the way around its magnificent harbour, incorporating the coast from Tītahi Bay north to Pukerua Bay, before extending all the way back into the hills that divide the west coast from Hutt Valley. Read the story . . . 

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Lower Hutt: take me to the river

The Hutt River was known by Tangata Whenua as Te Awakairangi, 'the river where food falls from the sky.' Bet there’s a story behind that name. Read the story . . . 

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