Breathtaking views and great walking tracks reward those who venture to the top of Mount Victoria.
Mount Victoria provides stunning 360 degree views of Wellington City, the harbour and the ocean to the south. Car and bus access is via Alexandra Road, while walking tracks lead from Oriental Parade and Majoribanks Street.
Legend has it that Wellington harbour, originally a land-locked lake, was home to two large and very active taniwha (sea monsters). One taniwha forged a passage to the open sea creating the entrance to the harbour. The second, named Whataitai, tried a different route, became stranded and died. It is believed that Tangi-te keo (Mt Victoria) was named after the soul of Whataitai.
Mount Victoria is part of the Wellington Town Belt, land set aside in 1841 by the colonial New Zealand Company for a "public recreation ground for the inhabitants of Wellington". It's a great place for walking, jogging and mountain biking.
At the end of the summit road, near the viewing platform, is a striking memorial to Richard Byrd, the American aviator. Byrd mounted numerous Antarctic expeditions from his base in New Zealand; in 1929 he made the first flight over the South Pole.
More recently, Mount Victoria provided a filming location for the first movie in the Lord of the Rings trilogy directed by Peter Jackson - himself a devoted Wellingtonian. On the slopes of the mountain, just minutes from the sophistication of modern Wellington, terrified hobbits hid from Black Riders in dense forest undergrowth.