The Westmere Walkway is unhelpfully, NOT in Westmere, so don’t confuse this walk with Westmere Lake. The entrance to the Westmere Walkway is by the Savemart car park in Kelvin Street, Aramoho. I know a few people who haven’t been able to find the place, but if you see these gates you’re in the right place.
The walkway opened last year thanks to a local farmer who granted access to his farmland, and Rotary Whanganui. You can find a brochure about this walk and others around Whanganui here. The blurb said it included hill climbing (I need all the practice I can get for Tongariro in December…), went through farmland, and included ‘rewarding views of the city’. The walk supposedly takes 1hr 30mins.
My husband D had kindly offered to watch the kids while I went out walking, so I headed off on my own. First mistake.
The walk started off pleasantly.
But then I was greeted with this:
I was not daunted by the slips along the track (there are many). I was initially undaunted by the herd of cows in the first field that the track meanders through. I have been around cows before and they don’t bother me. Until now.
As I got near them, some got skittish and ran away. The field spread out to the right, and there was a sharp drop off a cliff to the left. The ground was extremely wet and boggy, because a) it’s September and b) it’s rained a lot lately. The remaining cows got in a line between me and the open field. One looked particularly ornery, and it gave a little bellow and charged.
Did I mention that I was on my own, feet sinking in the mud, right next to a sharp drop? It was a tad terrifying.
I gave my best Xena, Warrior Princess yell which stopped the cow (I’m calling her Mad Martha) in her tracks. Thank God, because I reckon getting charged over a cliff by a cow would hurt. I high-tailed it outta there along the track as fast as my legs could carry me. Phew.
The walk gives the promised lovely views of Whanganui early on into the walk, not too far past Mad Martha and her cronies.
The track is well marked, and aside from detours over or around slips created after the last flooding, it is in good condition. There was no warning about the slips posted on the sign at the entrance and I feel there should be, as some of the slips are quite significant.
City views and mad cows aside, I was rather underwhelmed by this track. The description is correct – it does cut through farmland. And that’s it.
I enjoyed being in the great outdoors, but there are much more beautiful walks to be had. I’ve been around this sort of farmland most of my life so it wasn’t particularly exciting. There are a couple of pretty spots along the way:
But mostly it’s this:
The walk took me two hours to complete, due to cow detours, slip detours, and mud. Lots of glorious mud.
I am moderately fit and found the track pretty easy, although there are lots of steep hills to climb. But as I said, that’s what I was there for.
Unfortunately it is a loop track so I had to go past Mad Martha and the Gang again. And again, I was charged at. Mad Martha was clearly having a very, very bad day.
After scrambling down part of the cliff to avoid her, I made it home alive.
All in all I would NOT recommend this track to families, unless you are dairy farmers who know how to keep stroppy cows in line. Except for the great views of the city, the track has little to recommend it. See you around Mad Martha.