You'll be forgiven for having a Titanic-inspired "I'm the King of the World" moment (or Queen of the World, of course) when you reach the summit of the amusingly-named Colonial Knob. At 468 metres, it's the highest hill along Wellington's western coast. Airway radar masts and Wellington's wind notwithstanding, the peak's 360-degree view of central New Zealand is something to savour. On a good day, you can see as far as Mt Taranaki to the north and Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku in the South Island. Mana and Kapiti Islands seem so close that you can almost imagine a long jumper taking them on, while stretching out before you to the north is Porirua city, harbour and the Pauatahanui Inlet.
While the view is divine, half the pleasure is in the journey. To get there, you hike through the farmland and forest of Colonial Knob Scenic Reserve, which spills into surrounding suburbs. Of the three main tracks to the top, the shortest is a 1.8-kilometre, 40-minute walk from Elsdon via Porirua Scenic Reserve's sheltered bush. But why rush? The Summit Track, a four-kilometre hike through farmland and regenerating bush, will take a couple of hours one way, and rather less coming back down the hill.
Perhaps the best - and certainly the loveliest - outdoor corridor is the Department of Conservation's three-kilometre Colonial Knob Scenic Reserve Track. Unpromisingly, it starts at the end of Broken Hill Rd in Kenepuru, right by the main gate to the rubbish tip. However, soon you reach the magical Spicer Botanical Park with its arboretum of exotic trees - stay here for a while - before entering the region's most significant forested area with its tawa, kohekohe, manuka and nikau palms.
And the best is yet to come. One of two former reservoirs turned lakes has become a wetland; listen for birdsong, and the pitter-patter of waterfalls. Be prepared to lose an hour or two in this Garden of Eden before you press on to the summit. Depending on your fitness and speed, it's a three-to-four-hour round trip. If it's sunset when you get back to Porirua, look back at the hill with its shades of red just before dusk, earning it the Maori name of Rangituhi (sky glow).