Tourist Information and Accommodation
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There is no official Visitor Information Centre (i-site) in Petone, as Petone is part of Hutt City. But you might stumble over some information brochures and maps (not a lot!) in the Settlers Museum, or grab them in Wellington.
The i-site is in Lower Hutt.
Address and Contact Details:
25 Laings Road
Phone (04) 560 4715
Mon – Fri 9am – 5pm
Sat, Sun & Public Holidays 9am – 3pm
As we have had quite a big mess about accommodation tips on VT when the tips contained more than one hotel, motel, etc. I will not post this general tip in the accommodation section. Otherwise somebody might feel intrigued to put the name of one provider into the header and miss the idea of my tip.
As I have not stayed in Petone but got some local knowledge by wandering the streets and looking at some accommodation, I can tell you what is available and where. You can also find more information on the Hutt Valley and NZ Motels websites:
There are two major areas. One is The Esplanade which would be my choice because of the harbour views and relative quietness of the place. The other one is along the Hutt Road but this is along the railway line. The hotels/motels further out there are already in a suburb named Alicetown, and then just a few places in Hutt Central. The Holiday Park is south of the Hutt River, so strictly spoken not in Petone. It is in a corner of Hutt Park and the Golf Course. Well, nevertheless I can imagine more scenic places.
Accommodation along The Esplanade:
83 By the Sea Motor Lodge
83 The Esplanade
Rates from NZ$ 115 (studio, microwave only)
Phone (04) 569 8121
Foreshore Motor Lodge
5 Nelson Street
Rates from NZ$ 95 – 120 (for studio, microwave only)
Phone (04) 939 3609
On Hutt Road:
Settlers Motor Lodge
83 – 85 Hutt Road
Rates from NZ$ 115 (double studio)
Phone (04) 939 4088
Midway Pacifica Lodge
89 Hutt Road
Rates from NZ$ 94 (double studio without kitchen; with kitchen from NZ$ 109)
Phone (04) 569 3735
Du Pont Motels
95 Hutt Road
Rates from NZ$ 105 (twin studio)
Phone (04) 569 3799
Freephone (NZ only) 0508 387668
The Holiday Park
Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park
95 Hutt Park Road
Freephone (within NZ only) 0800 488 872
Rates (as Nov. 2009):
Motels – Studio NZ$ 115/125, Family self contained units 140, 2 bedrooms 160.
Cabins with kitchen NZ$ 75, family 95
Bunk cabins NZ$ 55
Powered and non-powered sites NZ$ 40
The delightful Cottages of Beach Street
Favorite thing: An incredible lot of historic cottages have been preserved in Petone, and Beach Street is one of the best examples.
It runs TO the beach from the town centre (Jackson Street), not parallel. In fact nearly all houses looked like freshly painted, the gardens were meticulously looked after, and a lot of details like beautiful house number designs lovingly added. You could film any historic movie in this street – and also in other strees of Petone. The place really has a feel of yesteryear.
On photo 2 you see a particular cottage that attracted my attention thanks to the huge cacti planted along the house.
The Beauty of the Backstreets
Favorite thing: I very much enjoyed my walk through the backstreets north of Jackson Street.
They were lined with historic and nicely renovated wooden cottages, and next to no traffic during the day, children playing in the streets.
There are also some parks like North Park and the Petone Recreation Ground.
Further east you would come to several parks and the golf course along the Hutt River.
Also the major churches are in this part of town, most in Britannia Street that originates at Jackson Street, between Bay and Beach Streets.
- Hiking and Walking
Favorite thing: Queen’s Wharf is close to the western end of the beach. You have to be very lucky to spot a ferry there which would take you to Wellington (Queen’s Wharf), Matiu/Somes Island or Days Bay, as it runs on weekends and public holidays only on this itinerary. So I would rather not count on it and take the bus.
But it makes a nice little walk, as the jetty is rather long. You can also do some angling there. And the view of the little blue shelter at the end of the jetty, the jetty itself and Matiu/Somes Island at the distance is quite something.
- Water Sports
Petone Wharf Dunes Restoration Project
Favorite thing: There was a time when the dunes along Petone’s foreshore were non-existent. Now, at the western end of the beach (where you turn off SH 2 to The Esplanade), you can learn quite a bit about dune restoration and native foredune plants that keep the dunes together and make them bigger and stronger.
Volunteers of the group “Keep Petone Beautiful” have started this project in May 2006, and the success has been imminent. “Friends of Petone Beach” have continued the work. By planting sand-binding species and controlling weeds, plants like Curly sand sedge (Carex pumila) and sand bidibid (piripiri; Acaena pallida) have spontaneously reappeared. The latter has purple-red flowers. You surely have seen Golden sand sedge (pingao; Desmoshoenus spiralis), it is an orange-coloured very sturdy dune grass species with relatively broad leaves, totally different to the “normal” Sand sedge which is just a rather unsightly thinnish but very useful ground cover.
Other species you can find here are Knobbly club rush (Ficinia nudosa), a grass species that grows in clumps, and the leaves are roundish, and the Shore groundsel (Senetius laudus var laudus) which is easily recognisable by its yellow flowers. And you also find Spinifex (Kowhangatara; Spinifex sericeus), the highest grass which gives you nice cuts if you pull it through your hands.
Please take care not to forage through this fragile eco system and help nature to recover.
- Hiking and Walking
Global Problem: Dog Owners Cannot Read
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It is the same everywhere in the world. You put up signs and most people behave as requested, as there is good reason for the rules. The only people who are not able to read are dog owners. Or do they think they have special rights which include to ignore every rule? You cannot expect the dogs to learn reading… They only do or do not do what their owners teach and tell them. They would obey to the rules if they could read.
The sign I am referring to says:
“Dogs are not allowed on this beach between 9am and 8pm during daylight saving period. Please note: All other times dogs must be leashed.”
It was a very quiet day when I walked along this beach on a day of the daylight saving period. Three people were walking on the beach, all three had dogs, all three dogs were running free and scaring the oystercatchers away.
Those signs were not hidden but placed at least every couple of hundred metres where you would access the beach, and you can be sure the dog owners were locals. It is what I always say: I have nothing against cats and dogs, only against their owners.
- Hiking and Walking
Brezel-mania and the End of the German Dream
Favorite thing: When I saw this sign in Jackson Street I started salivating! And I went into the bakery which claims to be or offer “The best from Germany since 1872” although I had decided to curb my carbohydrate intake for quite a while ;-) I really fought an internal fight, one voice telling me that I was not hungry, the other voice telling me that I could not let such a historic chance pass. The chance to probably taste the only acceptable Brezel (pretzel) outside the region where I grew up. Already in Germany I am more than picky with the Brezeln, and in New Zealand I had never ever tried one because the look at them only had put me off.
And so, now there was the Brezel-mania tempting me relatively shortly after returning from Germany, and still dreaming of my daily two Brezeln for breakfast…
I gave in and went into the shop. But what a disappointment! There was no Brezel left, as can happen even in Germany if you arrive too late, and they are really only delicious for several hours after baking, but this disappointment was so much worse because of the previous internal fight. I did not need a whole loaf of German bread, and I could really not have any of the sweet treats, that would have gone too far regarding my carb-curbing regime. So I bought two dark rolls with grains. I had one in the afternoon and the other one for dinner. They tasted nearly like home. But I can get such rolls in other bakeries in New Zealand, too. They were not that outstanding.
I would surely have another go when I happen to be in Petone again. But it is highly unlikely that I will wait for Brezeln until I travel back to my hometown in Germany. The truth is, I want Brezeln from Bäckerei Korn in Gingen/Fils… ;-)
Mon – Fri 7am – 6pm
Sat 7am – 5pm
Sun 8am – 4pm
When I tried last, the website of Brezelmania did not work (29 Nov 2009). I found the details on the Jackson Street business website. When I travelled to Eastbourne by bus I saw abandoned Brezelmania premises in the outskirts, so the bakery seems to have shifted its premises not too long ago.
Contact and Address:
Tony and Maureen Parun
364 Jackson Street, Petone
Phone: (04) 566 4104
- Food and Dining
Tui Traffic in the Pohutukawa
Favorite thing: As you might know, I am a bird and pohutukawa lover. So I was totally delighted to watch tui flying in and out of those lovely red flowering trees, and sitting there, and hopping, and singing for ages, making their squeaking sounds, and singing even more intensely when I talked to them. Sometimes I really have the impression those birds want to have a nice conversation.
The greatest spot in the whole of Petone was the bus stop next to the historic Police Station in Jackson Street.
The photos are not the best as I only had my small digital camera with me. I was not prepared for such tui encounters. But it was good to notice that I can still enjoy the wonders of nature without feeling the need to take one million photos for my VT pages ;-))) However, I admit that I asked my husband who joined me in Wellington the next day to bring a camera with a bigger lens, so we would be able to take some more tui photos. There really is no better time to photograph them than during the flowering season of pohutukawa and NZ flax, and Wellington and its surroundings in one of the best places to do so. I am rather sure such a mistake will not happen again ;-)
Some History about the End of the Sand Beach
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Like the harbour parts of Wellington, the town has also been reclaimed from the sea over the centuries – but most without the doing of the residents. Several major earthquakes raised the land in the valley. The last significant movement took place in 1855. The earthquake raised Petone by two metres and created about 100 metres of new land. It also drained the swamp that had driven the first settlers out of Petone and over to Wellington.
The name Petone derives from the Maori word Pito-one (pronounced: pi like in pity, then: toh-oh-neh), meaning: “end of the sand beach”.
Petone was the first European settlement in the Wellington region. You will be surprised and/or delighted by the number of well preserved historic buildings, namely wooden cottages, and some picturesque churches, the historic Police Station, with a long straight main street named Jackson Street, and lots of inviting cafés and restaurants.
The first settlers arrived in January 1840 on the ship Aurora. The Cuba was the next one. It was planned to build a town named Britannia here but this was considered very difficult in the swampy area which had been a gathering place for Maori for centuries. So most settlers left and chose the site which now is Wellington for their new settlement.
As mentioned above, the conditions changed after the 1855 quake. The land gained was used to establish three major industries between 1874 and 1886, and they made Petone prosper. Those industries were the Gear Meat Company, The Railway Workshops and the Petone Woollen Mills. It helped a lot that the railway line went through Petone to the Wairarapa. During the 1920’s and 1930’s Petone became the centre of the car industry in New Zealand, meaning: car assembly. Three quarters of all cars made in NZ were assembled in Petone.
The end of the boom started after World War II. A big part of the industry moved north, and things got bad and sad in the 1980’s when the car assembly and meat processing factories closed.
Only after the amalgamation with Lower Hutt in 1989 the economy started growing again.
You get a comprehensive overview of Petone’s history in the Settlers Museum which is a striking landmark on the Esplanade.
- Historical Travel