The city of Lower Hutt is home to a thriving hub of creativity, entrepreneurial spirit and urban parks. This quieter part of Greater Wellington is home to more than 90,000 people and is popular with families who enjoy scenic coastal views, forests, river walks and good local restaurants and bars. Here’s a list of great things to do near Lower Hutt.
Located on the shores of Wellington’s harbour, the Petone Settlers Museum documents the history of the first European settlers to New Zealand’s shores in 1840. The museum is housed in a memorial building and now functions as a place to showcase, through artefacts and exhibits, the shared social history of the European settlers and Honiana Te Puni-kokopu and Te Wharepouri, the Māori chiefs who ruled over the area before the Europeans arrived. The museum is located on the Esplanade in Petone and is open every day in summer and select days in winter from 10am to 4pm.
The 56-kilometre-long (35mi) Hutt River starts in the Southern Tararua Range and then snakes down through the Hutt valley until it joins Wellington Harbour in Lower Hutt. An easy way to explore the river is on the Hutt River Trail in Lower Hutt. This 29-kilometre (18mi) trail starts at Hikoikoi Reserve on Petone’s Marine Parade and runs the entire length of the eastern shore bank until it reaches Upper Hutt. The trail features an easy walk and cycle path access to the river for those who want to fish, dive in or travel via kayak.
For the best views of the sunrise or sunset over Lower Hutt, cycle or walk up to Wainuiomata Hill and take in the views from the Pukeatua lookout. Take in views from Petone Beach all the way across to Wellington Harbour. Another great lookout point for views of Lower Hutt is from Te Whiti Riser, a trail that starts in Te Whiti Park and is popular with cyclists, dog walkers and runners.
Situated at the edge of Lower Hutt City, Percy Scenic Reserve is a great place to visit for a picnic and outdoor walks. The reserve has a garden area, a small cave and a waterfall and is part of a connected network of reserves in the hill suburbs of Korokoro and Maungaraki. Take a basket and enjoy a picnic on the open grass area near the duck pond. Bicycles and dogs are not allowed in the park.
The Pencarrow Lighthouse was New Zealand’s first permanent lighthouse situated at Pencarrow Head, at the entrance to Wellington Harbour. It was first lit in 1859 and can be reached at the East Harbour Regional Park. The lighthouse is also well known for being run by New Zealand’s only female lighthouse keeper, Mary Jane Bennett, who lived alone with her six children at this post from 1855 to 1865. The lighthouse is an eight-kilometre (5mi) walk or cycle from Burden’s Gate, at the south end of Eastbourne.
Museum, Art Gallery, Building
Wellington is known for its creative energy, and the city of Lower Hutt is no different with its own Dowse Art Museum, a free gallery for people to enjoy contemporary art and culture. The museum in Lower Hutt has a collection of over 3,500 items and regularly hosts a changing programme of events and exhibitions featuring the art, design, jewellery, craft, sculpture and photography created by local and international artists and designers. The museum opened in 1971 and is open daily from 10am–5pm. Entrance is free, and guided tours can be booked in advance.