Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road

Belmont Road; Normandale Road, Belmont Regional Park, Wellington

  • Looking north along the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road just past the summit.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Michael Kelly. Date: 1/12/2006.
  • Bench cut of Road sidling north.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Michael Kelly. Date: 1/12/2006.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 2 Public Access Able to Visit
List Number 7711 Date Entered 22nd June 2007


Extent of List Entry

The registration includes the road (from south to north) between the end of the sealed section of the Normandale Road (GPS Coordinates: Easting 2669085, Northing 6000515, Elevation 297m) through Belmont Regional Park to the end of the sealed section of Belmont Road off the Paremata-Hayward Road (SH 58) (GPS Coordinates: Easting 2670751, Northing 6006340, Elevation 141m), a distance of approximately 10 kilometres (refer to Appendix 2, Map 2 of the registration report). The registration also includes the road formation, culverts, drains, embankments, quarries and other associated features.

City/District Council

Hutt City, Porirua City


Wellington Region

Legal description

Legal Road (as advised by Greater Wellington: The Regional Council), Wellington Land District.

Location description

The Road lies between Normandale (originally known as Belmont and latterly Upper Belmont) and Pauatahanui, mostly within the boundaries of the Belmont Regional Park. (See Maps in Appendix 2 of the registration report.)


The Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road is a fine and rare example of an early, horse-era road, the first road built between the Hutt Valley and Wellington's west coast. It was built in 1871-72 by William Ellerm, a local resident, and a group of fellow settlers for the Belmont Road Board, on behalf of the Wellington Provincial Council.

The Road remained the only route between the two settlements for less than 20 years. With the building of the lower and gentler Haywards Road in 1890, the Road was used less and less; by World War II it was receiving little maintenance from the Hutt County Council. During World War II, part of the Road was taken to provide access for the construction of a series of magazines. It was widened and metalled and largely closed to the public. It was not reopened until after the Army left in the late 1960s. Today the Road is part of the track system of the Belmont Regional Park and is used by farm traffic and park staff, and for a variety of recreational purposes.

The Road (from south to north) runs from the end of the sealed section of the Normandale Road through Belmont Regional Park to the end of the sealed section of Belmont Road off the Paremata-Hayward Road (SH 58). It is in generally good condition with many of its original characteristics on show at its northern and southern ends. Between is the portion altered for military purposes, while other parts of the Road show signs of widening and easing of corners. Quarries used for metalling the Road can be found along the route. The Road winds its way through constantly changing scenery and there are spectacular views of various parts of Wellington to be had from various vantage points.

The Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road is worthy of Category II registration because it is a rare extant example of a 19th century road. Although its major period of use was in its first 30 years or so, when it was the first road built between Hutt Valley and Pauatahanui, it has remained a legal road (for the most part) and in use, although not for through traffic. Lengthy portions of the Road remain in largely original condition, demonstrating authentic 19th century road building techniques. The Road's setting is a special part of its value, with the Road winding through pines, regenerating bush, open farmland and abandoned army magazines. The views from the Road to Wellington harbour, the Hutt Valley and west coast are spectacular.

Assessment criteriaopen/close

Historical Significance or Value

The Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road is a place of regional historic significance for a variety of reasons.

It is a rare surviving example of a construction initiated by the Wellington Provincial Council. This Road dates from the end of the provincial era but remains an example of the kind of public work that the Council initiated. It is one of only two Roads that the Council built that have survived in near their original form, the other being Old Coach Road, Johnsonville-Ohariu.

The Road offered the first route for vehicular transport from the Hutt Valley to Pauatahanui. Prior to its construction, the only routes were walking tracks. It remained in public use until World War II, a period of nearly 70 years, although its use dropped away substantially after the construction of the Hayward Road in 1890, which is why it was never sealed.

Belmont Coach Road's value primarily rests on archaeological, technological and aesthetic significance.

The Road has significant archaeological values, despite the changes that have been made to it over its history. Those archaeological values are primarily on or below the ground. They include the Road's formation, including the bench cuts and embankments, drains, original or old culverts, and its subsurface structure, as well as associated features such as quarries.

From a technological perspective, the Road is of some significance. Construction of roads was essential for providing a means of communication and transport between New Zealand's growing population centres. But such roads had to be built by hand using traditional methods - bench cuts by men using pick and shovel. In this it is typical of the roads built at the time, however there are few such examples remaining and this is a good illustration of the kind of road built at an easy grade for the use of horse-drawn vehicles.

The Road crosses an elevated part of the Hutt hills. It is narrow and either metalled or grassed and as a result generally has a modest impact on the landscape. Much of it is above 300 metres and there are fine views to be had from many vantage points. The Road's setting is also of significant aesthetic interest. There is great variety from one part of the Road to another, and the middle section through the grassy hills is enlivened by the frequent appearances of magazines, tucked into the landscape.

(a) The extent to which the place reflects important or representative aspects of New Zealand history

The need to provide means of communication and transport was central to the administration of 19th century New Zealand and its growth as a prosperous nation. The construction of the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road, although it was ultimately superseded by another road, is a local example of that. Roads boards were among the first examples of local bodies established in the country and predated most town administrations. It shows how important roads were to the country's disparate settlements.

The Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road is linked to the settlement of soldiers after the New Zealand Wars; it was their involvement that got the road built and it was through their land that the road ran. It can also lay claim to an association with the most significant event of the 20th century - World War II - through its partial utilisation for the installation of the 62 magazines in 1943-44.

(c) The potential of the place to provide knowledge of New Zealand history

As a 19th century road with some relatively unmodified sections, it does have the potential to provide knowledge of New Zealand history. That potential is probably limited to the road fabric but any special features now buried from view will require archaeological techniques to uncover them.

(e) The community association with, or public esteem for, the place

The Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road is known to many users of Belmont Regional Park. It is a resource that mountain bikers, runners and trampers use every day. It is a particular focus of the Friends of Belmont Regional Park, who have promoted this registration, and encouraged Greater Wellington to protect the Road for its heritage values.

(g) The technical accomplishment or value, or design of the place

The Road is a simple, unsealed road, and does not appear to have had to overcome major difficulties in its construction. Building roads in Wellington's clay soils and greywacke was not overly difficult but building 19th century roads was still a considerable challenge using the available tools and technology. This Road amply demonstrates that typical 19th century road construction through its narrow width, easy grade and bench cuts.

(j) The importance of identifying rare types of historic places

Roads are among the most common and important of all infrastructure. In that sense that are as prosaic as any built structure, but intact 19th century roads (those that have not been upgraded) are rare nationally.

There are four roads currently registered by the Historic Places Trust (Old Coach Road, Johnsonville-Ohariu; Ohakune-Horopito Coach Road; Skippers Road, Skippers Canyon; and Waoku Coach Road, Rawene). There are other 19th century roads (and fragments of roads) that remain intact but are not yet recognised on heritage inventories e.g. portions of the Arthurs Pass Road. The absence of intact old roads is because most roads undergo modifications and improvements, e.g. sealing, to make them useful for modern driving. So Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road is a rare historic place and its survival is significant.

(k) The extent to which the place forms part of a wider historical and cultural complex or historical and cultural landscape

Belmont Regional Park is made of a disparate collection of lands now largely under one common manager, Greater Wellington (see map in Appendix 2 of the registration report). The predominant and historic use of this land has been farming, although some of the area is now reverting to bush. It should be noted that when the Road was first put through there was still plenty of native forest in the area. Aside from the long history of farming here, which continues, the other major landscape element is the collection of World War II magazines in the middle portion of the Road. These structures are acknowledged as having considerable heritage value in their own right.

Summary of significance: The Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road is worthy of Category II registration because it is a rare extant example of a 19th century road. Although its major period of use was in its first 30 years or so, when it was the first road built between Hutt Valley and Pauatahanui, it has remained a legal road (for the most part) and in use, although not for through traffic. Lengthy portions of the Road remain in largely original condition, demonstrating authentic 19th century road building techniques. The Road's setting is a special part of its value, with the Road winding through pines, regenerating bush, open farmland and abandoned army magazines. The views from the Road - to Wellington harbour, the Hutt Valley and west coast - are spectacular.


Construction Professionalsopen/close

Ellerm, William and others

No biography is currently available for this construction professional

Additional informationopen/close

Historical Narrative

From the very beginning of the establishment of the European settlement of Wellington in 1840, building roads was a primary concern of its citizens. The pressure to improve access was immense at a time when movement across the land was confined to Maori tracks and sailing vessels were by far the most efficient way to move around the country.

Wellington's first road out of the settlement was the Porirua Road, begun in 1843 and then widened and improved in 1846. It was the only route in and out for a decade or more, with the exception of a packtrack over the Rimutaka built in the 1840s. The formation of the Wellington Provincial Council in 1853 ushered in a major period of road building. A road over the Rimutaka was completed in 1856, opening up a new route north, while roads were built up the Ngauranga Gorge and to Makara and Ohariu, also in the 1850s.

For those early settlers in the Hutt, access to the west coast (Porirua and northwards) was not easy. It required a trip back along the Hutt Road then up the Ngauranga Gorge Road and onto the Porirua Road. To the north, there were few options for crossing the main divide. The first road through the Manawatu Gorge was not built until the 1870s. The only alternative was via one of the numerous Maori tracks over the hills, for example those at Korokoro or Belmont. These were the two major routes for early Maori between the Wellington and Porirua harbours. A newsletter from the Greater Wellington Regional Council on the Belmont Regional Park reports that 'these routes initially linked Ngati Ira living in the Hutt Valley and Porirua and later the Kawhia and Taranaki iwi who had migrated here during the 1820s'. Sources suggest that the Belmont route was used by Maori for the attack on Boulcott's farm in 1846 and by British forces for the reprisal on Te Rangihaeta in 1847.

The building of the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road grew out of the settlement of the area known as Normandale. In 1854, sections were granted in the Hutt Valley's western hills, above where the Normandale overbridge sits today. The area was then known as Belmont. It was later known as Upper Belmont to distinguish it from Belmont in Lower Hutt (known as Lower Belmont). Between 1853 and 1857, 15 sections were granted. By this time, it is possible that some sort of route had been built into the hills of Normandale, if only to give access to the settlement. The sections had not been surveyed and after settlers asked the provincial government to address this issue, a straight line was surveyed by Albert Beecham from Pauatahanui to Korokoro in 1857. This straight line still appears in survey plans as a legal road (Normandale Road). This survey line was then used as a base line for the accurate subdivision of further sections.

Also in 1857, local settler David Galloway and his son travelled from Pauatahanui to the Hutt Valley in a two-day trip. An account of the trip was sent to the Wellington Provincial Council's Engineer for Roads and then published in the Council's proceedings. The report noted:

"...Allow us to observe that in our opinion a good road can be made in continuation of the Belmont line into the Horokiwi Road District and also to Pahatanui (sic ) opening up a considerable quantity of land of average quality which we have no doubt would be speedily sold and repay any expense that might be incurred in the making..."

His mention of a continuation indicates that part of the Road was already in place. It also made mention of the forests that they passed, which would then have covered most of the area they saw. Among the species seen were '...white pine, rimu, mire (sic), totaro (sic) and moi (sic )...'. It is likely Galloway and his son followed the old Maori trail at Belmont. References to a trail appeared in colonial documents. Later, when the Road was built, it apparently followed, loosely, this trail.

During the 1860s, 32 Crown Grants of sections in the area were offered to retired British soldiers, almost entirely from the 65th regiment. Searches of land titles show that 15 of these were resold within six years of being taken up. They were apparently used only to extract timber and then cleared for grazing and resale.

After complaints that a road board, a necessary prelude to road building, had still not been established by 1870, some sort of action seems to have taken place. The Belmont Road Board was formed and undertook the construction work. Its chairman William Ellerm, a baker, built the Road himself with local men. Ellerm owned Lot 129, a prime section of 100 acres. Various payments to Ellerm are listed in roads' boards' files.

In a letter to the Provincial Council Chairman, in May 1872, he wrote:

"I have to inform your Honr that the line is now cut through to the Pahautanui [sic] District and is ready for the inspection of the Provincial Engineer the labour expended up to yesterday amounts to the sum of £15.18. I am requested to ask your Honr if you expected the men to accompany the Provincial Engineer in taking the levals [sic] and do the necessary work gratis as the men appear to think that they ought to receive payment for the work".

Cutting the line refers to the removal of trees and vegetation to allow construction to take place. The superintendent replied to Ellerm suggesting that he send him the names of the people who 'cut the line' so that he could arrange for the engineer to see them and go over the line. This Ellerm did. Most of the men were settlers in Normandale. They were Robert Burns, former soldier (99th Regiment) and settler (granted section 326 in 1866), John Francis, a settler (bought section 328 in 1864), and his brother Jesse, William Gosling, a labourer (bought section 302 in 1860), Henry Hart, (probably the son of George Hart land agent who bought section 301 in 1854), James Nairn, a Wairarapa shepherd (granted section 319 in 1860), John Scrimshaw, probably the son of George Scrimshaw, a soldier from the 65th regiment who was granted section 304 in 1857, and John Scholes, settler (bought section 310 in 1865). The vested interest the local men had in building the Road probably encouraged their participation.

The sequence of events surrounding the road's construction is far from certain. The line cutting started in at least early 1871 because there was a payment to Ellerm in February of that year (see footnote 10 of the registration report). In May 1872, after the line was cut, Ellerm sent the Superintendent a letter seeking work and offering to build a road from Belmont to Pauatahanui. This suggests that Ellerm was seeking the contract to do the construction work proper. There is a photograph by William Travers (see Appendix 4 of the registration report) depicting the Road in 1870, although it is difficult to place too much faith in photo captions. If Ellerm did not start work until the latter half of 1872 i.e. after his letter to the Superintendent, it would have been a significant feat to have the road finished by the following year, when it was noted as completed. The length of formed road was 13.4 kilometres and it cost approximately £565 to build. That a group of men who were not professional road builders took on this job indicates that, in the 19th century, building roads was probably considered a fairly straightforward, almost prosaic, activity; certainly for retired soldiers.

The Road seems to have been built as a packtrack (about 1.2 metres in width) as it was apparently widened by 1876 to take wheeled vehicles. One source describes 'repairs' undertaken by David Galloway in 1875. It is not certain if this is the same work.

After the Road was built, farms on the western hills could be taken up with greater ease. In 1878, 74 sections went on sale in Belmont. By then, there were 10 households living in Belmont. The arrival of the railway in 1874 undoubtedly increased demand for land in the Hutt Valley, including Belmont.

After the dissolution of the Provincial Council in 1876, maintenance of the Road came under the aegis of the Hutt County Council. After 1891 and the formation of the Hutt Borough Council, responsibility was split between the two organisations. Sadleir puts the demarcation near the intersection of the Belmont and Pekanga Roads, which is only a short distance from the Hutt Road, meaning that most of the onus fell on Hutt County.

During the 1880s, many of the small farms were bought for aggregation into large holdings, by individuals such as Charles Cottle (for whom Cottle Park Drive is named), the Galloways, Thomas Meagher and particularly Sir William Fitzherhert, who was the Provincial Superintendent during the period of the Road's construction, and a man who accumulated large land holdings throughout the wider Wellington district. Fitzherbert died in 1891, and in 1903 the Liberal government began negotiations with his estate to buy Belmont Farm, some 1640 acres of land that Fitzherbert had acquired. It was bought for £15,419. When the land went on the market, Premier Richard Seddon's wife's maiden surname of Norman was given to the area. Normandale allowed Lower Belmont to become simply Belmont.

The subdivision of Normandale led to the gradual suburbanisation of the area up to the present edge of Belmont Regional Park. The Road was still unsealed in the 1930s but was eventually sealed up to what became the park entrance. There is a reference to the possibility of widening and sealing Normandale Road in 1950, but only the former appears to have happened. Nevertheless, in parts, the Normandale Road is still very narrow and probably not much wider than it was when it was built.

The most significant impact on the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road came relatively early in its history. The completion of the first Haywards Road in 1890 eventually spelled the end of regular use of the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road, ultimately because it was never upgraded for motor vehicles. A number of early Wellington roads were built on ridges, which were commonly used as they helped ensure a dry base and avoided stream crossings and costly bridges. The problems with ridge roads were exposure to the weather and lack of water for animals. For instance, in the case of Old Ohariu Road, completed in 1858, the unsatisfactory nature of the route led to its speedy replacement. However, use of the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road did not end with the building of the Haywards Road. The latter went through many changes and realignments over its history, particularly after the advent of the motorcar. There was a major rerouting in 1929, for instance. However, as it improved, it became the preferred route between the Hutt and Pauatahanui.

In 1904 the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road was described in a survey as being a 'formed dray road...up to 12 feet wide on the Hutt side'. And it was still being maintained and metalled. In 1909 there was a contretemps between the Hutt Borough Council Mayor and a Councillor over the quality of metal extracted from a Normandale quarry. During this period another access road into the Belmont Hills, Hill Road, (then known as Cottle Road) was extended to intersect with the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road. Hill Road later became important for its use by the military.

By the end of World War I, regular use of the Road had ended and traffic was primarily farm-related. Hutt City Council records provide an interesting insight into early 20th century use of the Road. The most pressing issue for most users was maintenance, which the council clearly did not regard as its highest priority.

In 1918, W. Ward, a local resident, complained about the state of the Road on the Normandale side, which had only been partially repaired the previous year. Repairs were again made but three years later gorse was encroaching on the northern end of the Road making it nearly impassable. This time the Normandale Progressive Association weighed in, and they did so again in 1925:

"Time was we could drive over to the west coast but of late years the road between Normandale and the new road formed on Haywards has been neglected until it is in places overrun with gorse and impassible to vehicles".

The reply from the Council was succinct. 'The Council do not consider the extent of traffic would warrant the cost involved in your request.' In 1928, 12 local residents petitioned the Council complaining about 'certain gates...erected upon or across' the Road that have 'become a public inconvenience'. That same year there was another petition, this time from the 14 'owners, lessees, drovers and residential occupiers of property situate between Pahatanui (sic) and Belmont' asking that the roadway be fenced on either side and the Road put in good enough order to allow the petitioners proper means of access to their properties. The Council did respond by suggesting work would start in the spring, but in 1930 the Normandale Progressive Association again complained about the state of the Road, which appeared to have forced its closure. There was no reply on file. It suggests that the Road was, by then, very low on the Council's priorities.

One of the reasons for this is that there were far fewer farmers living on the Road. In an excerpt from a description of the Road written in 1936, and used in a 1983 article by Joe Boulton in the Kapi-Mana News, the Road was already regarded as a relic from a by-gone era. Abandoned farm houses were passed and only one individual was seen on the Road.

The Council was concerned that the Normandale end of the Road was not legal and took steps to change that in 1936. In 1948, the Belmont Road was renamed Normandale Road where it travelled through Normandale.

With the advent of World War II and the threat of Japanese invasion, the Road and its environs took on a new role. As part of a huge military construction programme by the Government, which included coastal defences, camps, bases and airfields, the Belmont Hills were earmarked for a huge complex of ammunition storage magazines on what were then privately-owned farms.

The War Cabinet gave approval to build the magazines in September 1942. Some 244 were planned for various locations in New Zealand and 52 were initially planned for the Belmont Hills, on land owned by descendants of Charles Cottle. In the end, 62 were built, at a total cost of £210,000.

Access to the area was via Hill Road, which met the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road about five kilometres from where it leaves the Hutt Road and the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road was incorporated into the access way for the magazines, and 'widened and improved'. The work on roading, which also included building side roads to access the many magazines, cost £32,000. The widened portion of the Road is still evident today, continuing northwards until the end of the magazines, after which it reverts to its narrower, original width.

When work first began, the Army was keen to see the Road stay open so that land owners could maintain access to their properties, while ensuring that they (the Army) could 'check or prohibit vehicles'. The Army also managed cattle stops, fences and gates along that part of the Road it managed. In the end, it proved necessary to close the Road.

The acquisition of the land and its new use led to considerable issues with the Cottles, who, as the landowner most effected, demanded compensation for their troubles. Post-war, the Army and Ministry of Works had difficulties settling with the Cottles:

"Messers. Cottle make a great deal of the restrictions placed upon their property by the Army and the interference with their farming operations.

... This Department [MoW] was under the impression that your Department had not entered on any of the property excepting the land used for the construction of the magazine buildings and access roading; also that the only restrictions placed upon the use of the farm as a whole, apart from such entry, was the control of the traffic on the Belmont Hill Road".

Most of the magazines were built in 1943 by Fletcher Construction and Certified Concrete, generally using precast, reinforced concrete members. There were two types of magazine. One was the Type 'P' magazine, which came in various shapes and sizes and was the most common, there being 52 of them. The other was the 'Macallan' magazine and there were 10 of these, 8 of them side by side in one area. They had pitched roofs, as opposed to the Type P's.

The Army continued to use the magazines after the war and the issue of access continued. The public wanted to go back to using a road they had had always thought was legal and open. The Army resisted this and in 1953 took the land for defence purposes. Throughout that period, the roads that passed through the area were closed to the general public. In 1961, the situation was described by the Ministry of Works as follows:

Gates are across the road, and apparently settlers known to the Army are given a key. I also understand that there is at least one sentry point, where the guard has difficulty in convincing motorists of Army viewpoint that they have no legal right to proceed further.

The Road's confused status seems to be partly the cause of the Army's difficulties. In 1953, it led to the peculiar situation of the Army deciding that the portion of road running through the Cottle and Kilmister land was not a legal road and taking steps to remedy that, presumably to simply allow them to close the Road.

In 1962, the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road was described as a 'formed road to Pahautanui [sic]...used by Post Office linesmen and farmers'. It noted that two of the farmers used the Road 'through the Army area as a short cut to the Hutt Valley as a matter of convenience rather than necessity'.

The magazine area passed from the Army to the Ministry of Works in December 1967, and, presumably, promptly on to the Department of Lands and Survey, but even after 1969, the public was kept out because explosives were still stored there for commercial purposes and 'safety distances and regulations' still applied. The Department of Lands and Survey, together with the Army, declared the roads passing through the military area closed until formally re-opened. When this happened is not certain.

Today, most of the magazines are open to the elements and used mainly by stock as shelter. Some are used for farming purposes, while one has been incorporated into a natural gas complex.

Over time, the land between Normandale and Pauatahanui was acquired from its private owners by a variety of different parties, including the Department of Lands and Survey, Porirua City Council, Petone and Lower Hutt Borough Councils and the Wellington Regional Council. Much of the land was kept as farmland and became known as Waitangirua Farm Settlement. When the Department of Conservation was formed in 1987, the farm was taken over by the newly formed Landcorp. Belmont Regional Park was formed in 1989 and managed by the Wellington Regional Council, despite the range of different owners. During lambing season, users have been kept off the portion of the Road within the farm, which is the majority of its length.

In more recent years, the work of the Friends of Belmont Regional Park has raised the profile of the Road and encouraged Greater Wellington to take on a greater management role. The Hutt City Council has listed the Road in their district plan as recognition of its heritage significance. Waitangirua Farm has recently been sold to Greater Wellington to add to the park and the land where the Road is located is now largely under one common manager, Greater Wellington, for the first time in many decades.

Physical Description

The Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road, a packtrack from the Hutt Valley to Pauatahanui, later upgraded to a road, originally left the Hutt from somewhere near where the present Normandale bridge is located and ended at the intersection of SH 58 and Belmont Road. However, the Road proposed for registration is the Old Belmont to Pauatahanui Road which incorporates the unsealed section of the Road, a distance of about 10 kilometres, and is located largely within the boundary of the Belmont Regional Park.

From south to north, the Road runs from the end of the sealed section of the Normandale Road through Belmont Regional Park and sidles along the hillside maintaining an easy grade, suitable for horses, while it climbs to the Road summit. During this section, it travels through pine forests and regenerating bush before entering open farmland near the summit. At this point the first of four quarries identified to date is to be found. The rest of the journey is in the open. From the summit, the Road sidles down a ridge to meet Hill Road. Here it widens and rises west up the valley, passing the numerous magazines along the way, to meet an intersection to a track heading south. From there the Road heads north across the ridge tops before leaving the former military area and reverting to its original width. It sidles down towards the sealed end of Belmont Road.


The Road is in good condition for most of its length and in relatively original condition, with some obvious exceptions.

The Road is at its most original at either end; both sections retain their width and general formation, although there has been some widening in places. The portion of the Road in the middle - from the intersection with Hill Road to the northern end of the magazine area - is the most changed. It was widened and upgraded during World War II to take military and construction traffic. The part of it that still serves farming and infrustractural (gas and electrical) traffic is still metalled. That portion can today be regarded as a good quality non-sealed road. Nevertheless, its alignment and formation are intact, and the general width is not unduly enlarged from the original. The rest of the Road upgraded for military use is today largely grassed, but it is still clearly wider.

For the remainder, there is evidence of modification in a number of places, including easing of corners, new culverts and reshaping of road surfaces. In addition, there are sections, particularly at the northern end, where poor drainage has led to the removal of the Road's crown, creating deep ruts and exposing bedrock or old culverts.

Notable Features

Within the Road corridor:

- Road formation, culverts, drains, embankments and quarries (various, along the route -included in registration)

- Fences and gates (not included in registration)

Outside the Road corridor (not included in registration):

- The 62 World War II magazines, most of which are visible from the Road.

- Power pylons, which were built in the 1960s and cross the Road in two places.

- A major gas sub-station, utilising one of the magazines.

- Farming infrastructure, such as gates, fences, barns, tracks, pens etc.

Construction Dates

- 1871
(By) 1871, probably earlier

Original Construction
1871 - 1872
Construction possibly begun earlier than 1871. Some accounts say construction was finished in 1873.

1943 -
No specific dates have been found for major changes to the Road, with the exception of the middle section, which was incorporated (and modified) by the Army to give access to the construction of magazines in 1943.

Construction Details

The Road is predominantly made of up bench cuts (a bench cut into the side of a hill), constructed by hand using 'pick and shovel'. The Road was metalled using bedrock quarried from alongside the Road, but in the absence of a specification it is not certain if metalling was part of the early fabric; it was certainly part of later road maintenance. Likewise, the composition of the Road is not known. It may have been composed of the traditional layers of material - coarser at the bottom and finer on top, but only an invasive investigation or a specification will establish this. As much as possible the formation would have been compressed and hardened but in the absence of mechanised tools, this would have been difficult.

The profile of the Road is a simple one. The least altered portions have a standard width of 12-14 ft (3.6m - 4.2m) and a variable gradient of between, roughly, 1 in 12 and 1 in 20 (this has not been measured), along with some flat sections. The Road has a crown, although this is now missing from some sections of the Road, and side drains and culverts, although there are no obvious examples of original culverts still in working order. These are now composed of plastic, concrete or metal piping.

Public NZAA Number






Completion Date

11th May 2007

Report Written By

Michael Kelly

Information Sources

Archaeology in New Zealand

Archaeology in New Zealand

Walton A. 'Observation Posts and Magazine Areas: Further Notes on Wellington Military Sites', Vol.37, No.2, June 1994

Healy, 1980

W B Healy, Pauatahanui Inlet- An environmental study, DSIR, Wellington, 1980


Major, 1996

N Major, Roads, Looking Ahead, Paper presented to 1996 IPENZ Conference

McClennan, 1993

R McClennan, Glimpses into early Normandale, Normandale Progressive Association, 1993

Provincial Council of Wellington

Acts and Proceedings of the Provincial Council of Wellington 1856-57


Sadleir, 2004

R Sadleir, 'The Road Over The Hills', July 2004 (on file)

Kapi-Mana News

Kapi-Mana News

Joe Boulton, 'Forgotten Belmont road part of local history', 4 October 1983

Other Information

A fully referenced version of the registration report is available from the Central Regional Office.

Designer/ architect/ engineer/ architectural partnership: Not known. A route was surveyed in the 1860s by E. J. Campion, surveyor, but it is not known if this was the one followed by the Road.

Belmont Road was recorded as an archaeological site in 2004 by an archaeologist undertaking work on the Belmont Park Management Plan for the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.