Tag Archives: Botanical Gardens

Wellington Walks – City to Sea

Wellington’s City to Sea Walkway takes you from Parliament, in the central city, to Island Bay, on the coast 12 kilometres away.

Almost the end of Wellington's City to Sea Walk
Almost the end of Wellington’s City to Sea Walk

Once again, the City to Sea walk offers all the things that we love about Wellington – the rugged hills, the bracing wind, the sweeping views of the city, bush and sea, with glimpses of historic places and famous local landmarks.

The first stage of the City to Sea Walkway takes you through the Botanic Gardens. Slow down and smell the roses, especially in the famous Lady Norwood Rose Garden. You’ll pass by two historic graveyards where many Wellington founding fathers lie at rest. High on the hill you’ll find the Carter Observatory, one of several on the route. You can watch the legendary Wellington Cable Cable arrive and depart. From here, you can see Wellington University tucked into the fold of the hills and far below, the city wrapped around the harbour.

Now it’s all downhill to the Aro Valley with its hundred year old wooden cottages strung along the steep, narrow streets. Take a break in Aro Park, where, during the Cold War era, historian Bill Sutch was sprung passing national secrets to a Russian spy. If pass through this park in early March, you’ll catch one of the most spectacular festivals on the Wellington Calendar.

Leaving the Aro Valley in your wake, you’ll head up into the bushy Town Belt through stands of pines and native bush onto wind swept ridge tops. The views from here are spectacular. Behind you there’s central Wellington spreading around the harbour. Turn your gaze to the south and you’ll see Newtown, where stately Government house stands in its lush gardens, an oasis among the crowded streets. Beyond Newtown, Berhampore sprawls across the hill. Further on the Gothic towers of Erskine college mark the beginning of Island Bay. Look up and you’ll see the Brooklyn wind turbine turning against the sky. On one side there’s , Mount Victoria, on the other Mount Kaukau. Ahead, in the v of the hills, there’s Cook Strait and on a clear day, you can see the peaks of the South Island’s Kaikoura Ranges standing white against the blue.

The walk down over the hills of Brooklyn, through the last glades of bush is beautiful, especially when the broom and the gorse are blooming on the hills of happy valley. From here, the coast, with surging waves dashing against the rocks, is magnificent

Like the Southern Walkway, this is a walk that can be done in stages. Again, it is well sign-posted, so it is easy to leave or join the track at any time.

The experts recommend a good level of fitness to complete the City to Sea walk in a single day.


Clean Green Singapore

Although it is modern and industrialized, with its meagre land area densely populated and built–up, Singapore is officially the greenest city in Asia. Unofficially, it is probably the cleanest in the world.

Green space in Singapore
Green space in Singapore

Singaporeans are proud of their clean, green reputation. “Singapore is very nice” says Elwin, a waiter in the Hotel InterContinental’s restaurant. “The air is clean, there’s no pollution, not too much traffic, no litter and lots of green”.

Elwin is right. The city air is clean; it is warm and soft on the skin; it smells of rain, imminent or just past, with the slightest tinge of exotic Asian food. There isn’t too much traffic; it flows in smooth lines, quietly enough for a conversation. There is no litter; no dropped papers and packets on the footpaths, no soggy cigarette butts clogging the gutters, no chewing gum to embed in the soles of unwary pedestrian shoes, no dog-poo, vomit or pee to side-step and none of the accompanying stench. In fact, there are no dogs, drunks or derelicts (at least not on the streets).

Beds of lush plants border the pavements and boxes of bright flowers spill from walkways. There are vast, dense lawns of an almost blinding green, like the Padang, the Singapore Sports Ground, down in front of City Hall. Oases of palm trees line the streets and pepper the shopping malls. There are roadside stands of shady old-man trees with dark canopies, their scarred trunks twisted with growths like thick rope. Like a verdant heart, Fort Canning Park sits at the centre of a knot of busy arterial roads, a cool repose for the eyes between the silhouettes of skyscrapers. The clean, clear surface of the Singapore River reflects the sky despite the bum boats full of tourists that chug constantly up and down and the cafes that crowd at its edges from Boat to Clark Quay.

Singapore’s nature reserves form a rough semi-circle round the city. There are the Botanical Gardens – 53 hectares of trees, flowers and shrubs, with picturesque paths and walkways; Singapore Zoo, a jungle haven with 290 species of animals; Sungei Bulah Wetlands – its Mangrove Swamp alive with birds and sea-creatures; MacRitchie Reservoir with its nature paths and treetop walk; Bukit Timar Nature Reserve and the wildly colourful Jurong Bird Park. Beyond the mainland are the islands; sleepy Pulau Ubin – a glimpse old Singapore and Sentosa, once a pirate hideaway, now a retreat from the city, threaded with shady bushland paths and fragrant gardens.

Singapore’s clean, green reputation is thoroughly deserved. Singaporeans have worked hard at it. A committed effort has seen the once polluted river run clear again. Strict laws and tough consequences have rid the streets of litter. New, clean, efficient, accessible public transport systems have been established and Singaporeans are encouraged to use them, rather than private cars.

As old Singapore has morphed and mushroomed into a modern metropolis, careful planning has safeguarded precious urban green zones and preserved 5% of the island in its natural state. In 1990 the Singaporean Environmental Council was established to oversee growth, land use, water supply, pollution control, refuse disposal, transport and quality of life into the 21st century and beyond.

Elwin is right. Singapore is nice. Singaporeans are determined to keep it that way. So, as 21st century Singapore shoots ever skywards and business booms, a clean, green future with fresh air, pure water and a quality lifestyle in a safe, healthy and “nice” environment seems assured.