Lower Hutt (also called Hutt City after its local council's self-chosen name) is a city in the lower (southern) Hutt Valley, near Wellington, in the Greater Wellington region of the North Island of New Zealand. The city includes Lower Hutt itself and the distinctly separate communities of Petone, Eastbourne and Wainuiomata.
The early settlers that came to Wellington in 1840 first settled by the beach at Petone and then moved up the Hutt Valley, looking for suitable land for farming. Urbanisation in the lower Hutt Valley was concentrated mainly around Petone, central Lower Hutt and Eastbourne until the Second World War. From the 1940s, the government built several new suburbs, namely Epuni, Naenae and Taita, containing thousands of state-owned houses to alleviate both pre-war and post-war housing shortages. Much of the flat land in the lower valley has now been urbanised, though the steep and relatively undeveloped valley hillsides, which are much more suited to forestry, as well as the many trees in private residential gardens, gives the city a rural feel.
Although only across Wellington Harbour from the capital, Wellington, the Hutt Valley climate is distinctly different. Sheltered by the surrounding hills the weather is less windy and generally warmer, although winter frosts are more severe, particularly further up the valley, away from the sea.
There are only four roads into and out of Lower Hutt. Three are part of the state highway system, and these all lie on the western bank of the Hutt River, with the third, Eastern Hutt Road, connecting Lower Hutt to Upper Hutt via Stokes Valley.
There is a regular bus service between Wellington and Lower Hutt.
- The Airport Flyer bus (route 91), which travels every 20 minutes from the Wellington Airport, through central Wellington, is an express bus service. It stops at major bus stops only, including the Queensgate (Lower Hutt) bus interchange and travels through Lower Hutt to Upper Hutt on a limited timetable. This service has space for luggage in the bus, by the front seats.
- The Eastbourne bus travels from Courtenay Place in central Wellington to Eastbourne, on the other side of the harbour. Some buses travel via Jackson Street (route 81) in Petone and via the Queensgate (Lower Hutt) bus interchange (route 83). At peak time there are express commuter services direct to Eastbourne and Wainuiomata. Ask the drive before boarding if you are not certain.
Online you can use Metlink to look up bus (and train) timetables, or to find the easiest way from A to B in the Wellington region on public transport.
There is also a regular Upper Hutt–Petone service (route 110) from Upper Hutt railway station to Petone railway station via Stokes Valley Entrance, Fraser Park, and Lower Hutt Queensgate.
- State Highway 2 travels the length of Lower Hutt, providing access to the city from Wellington and Upper Hutt. The northern two-thirds of the highway follow the western bank of the Hutt River, before turning away from the river and following the foothills down to the western shore of Wellington Harbour. There are major intersections and bridges that provide ready access to most Hutt Valley suburbs. At most times of the day, this means it is about a half-hour trip from downtown Wellington to any Lower Hutt suburb, a distance of less than 30km. During rush hour, the journey can take an hour or more.
- State Highway 58 runs from the Paremata roundabout on SH1 in Porirua, travels over the Haywards Hill and joins SH2 at Manor Park.
- The Eastern Hutt Road travels from the Silverstream Bridge, at the southern end of Upper Hutt, along the eastern bank of the Hutt River. It provides ready access to the northern suburbs of Stokes Valley, Pomare and Taita.
Suburban rail services between Wellington and Lower Hutt run half-hourly for most of the day and evening. Off-peak services, 09:00-14:30, have reduced fares. There are also all-day and weekend passes that will allow unlimited travel on all Wellington suburban rail services.
There are two different lines:
- Hutt Valley Line - Operates half-hourly most of the day, with express services at peak times. From Wellington services stop at Ngauranga, Petone, Ava, Woburn, Waterloo (or Hutt Central), Epuni, Naenae, Wingate, Taita, Pomare, Manor Park, and travel on to the Upper Hutt stations of Silverstream, Heretaunga, Trentham, Wallaceville, Upper Hutt. All units stop at Waterloo, which is the main Lower Hutt station and a bus interchange. Express peak-time Upper Hutt units next stop is Taita, then all stations. Taita units stop at all stations in the lower valley. Transfers take place at Taita station.
- Melling Line - Operates Monday to Friday during the day only. Stops at all stations from Wellington to Petone then up a branch line to Western Hutt and Melling stations. This service provides the closest stop to the Lower Hutt town centre, which is 10-20 minutes' walk from these stations.
- The express Wairarapa Connection - Operates daily morning and evening services on the same route as the Hutt Valley suburban line. It stops only at Petone and Waterloo stations in Lower Hutt. There is a $10.50 minimum fare on outbound services (from Wellington) between any intermediate Hutt Valley Line stations, to discourage intra-Hutt Valley travel on this express service. Inbound services (to Wellington) don't attract the minimum fare, and the service can be used space permitting by Hutt Valley passengers for the standard fare.
The East by West Ferry runs several times a day between Queen's Wharf in Wellington and Days Bay at Eastbourne. This is a great day trip. Restaurants, cafes, and destination shopping, lovely beach, boat hire, forest walks! The ferry will also take you to Somes/Matui Island in the middle of the harbour, another great day out with spectacular views of the city and environs. The ferry also runs to Petone.
Valley Flyer runs regular bus services throughout Lower Hutt, serving suburbs not covered by the rail network. All but one bus route converges on the Lower Hutt Queensgate bus interchange, outside the Westfield Queensgate shopping mall on the corner of Queens Drive and Bunny Street in central Lower Hutt. All buses also connect to train services at either Taita, Waterloo or Petone stations.
The main buses are:
- Eastbourne (83) connects Courtenay Place in central Wellington with Eastbourne via Petone station, Queensgate and Gracefield.
- Upper Hutt (110) connects Petone station to Upper Hutt via Queensgate, Hutt Hospital, Fraser Park and Stokes Valley Entrance.
- Stokes Valley (120) connects Queensgate with central Stokes Valley via Hutt Hospital, Taita station, and Stokes Valley entrance.
- Naenae (130) connects Petone station to Naenae town centre via Moera, Queensgate, Waterloo station, and the Naenae suburbs.
- Western Hills (150) connects Petone station with Kelson via Maungaraki, Normandale, Queensgate, Waterloo station, and Naenae.
- Wainuiomata (160/170) connects Queensgate with central Wainuiomata via Waterloo station. Bus 160 serves the northern half of Wainuiomata, while bus 170 serves the southern half.
- The Dowse Art Gallery displays contemporary art from New Zealand and elsewhere. Entry is free, although some exhibitions may have admission charges. Entrance on Laings Rd.
- Belmont Regional Park is a great place to wander around. If you've got all day then the walk up to Belmont Trig is very tiring yet enjoyable, with outstanding views in clear weather.
- If you want to go on a short walk then you can go from the end of Cornish Street, in Petone, up to the defunct Korokoro Dam.
- Petone, the first colonial settlement in the Wellington area. Visit the early settlers museum and see the Jackson Street walk of fame.
- The Hutt River is easily accessible for most of its length. It is even able to be fished for trout - a fishing licence is required.
- Petone beach and especially the Eastbourne beaches are popular with swimmers and those who enjoy water sports.
- Lighthouse Cinema is a boutique cinema where you can watch a movie in comfortable surroundings with a nice glass of wine or a coffee.
- Walk the fire breaks on the Eastern Hills for great views of Wellington Harbour and the Hutt Valley. Best access is from Te Whiti Park in Waiwhetu, or Summit Road in Epuni. Take good shoes and plenty of water, the tracks are very steep in places.
The major shopping and business is in the Lower Hutt city centre between the Melling and Ewen Bridges over the Hutt River.
- 1 Queensgate Shopping Centre. Mo-We & Sa 09:00-18:00, Th-Fr 09:00-21:00, Su 10:00-17:30. A modern shopping mall that had a $150M redevelopment in 2006. It boasts the usual facilities found in shopping malls, including food courts and movie theatres. Like most modern malls, once inside you could be anywhere on the planet where buildings like this are created to extract dollars from your pocket.
- A vegetable market operates at the Riverbank car park on Saturday mornings. This is easily the cheapest place to get your fruit and vegetables. There is plenty of car parking available. The main entrance is off Rutherford St, just north of Countdown Supermarket.
- Take a walk along Jackson Street in Petone. A once half-derelict shopping street that has revived and reinvented itself in the past ten years. Think of something and you can probably get it new, second hand or have someone make it for you. It's that kind of street. Full of quirky one-off shops (eg a knife shop, a shop that sells nothing but cook books, a South African deli, a shop where kids of all ages can paint to their hearts' content, a noodle factory.)
Supermarkets are found in Stokes Valley (New World), Lower Hutt Central (Countdown x2, New World, Pak'nSave), Petone (Countdown and Pak'nSave) and Wainuiomata (Countdown).
- Fish and chips
- Dennis Fish Supply; 103 Randwick Rd, Moera
- Moera Fish Supply; 161 Randwick Rd, Moera. For homemade chips.
- So Fine Seafoods; 2 Tennyson Ave, Avalon (New Zealand's best fish 'n' chip shop 2008)
- Tom's Takeaways; 123 Randwick Rd, Moera
- Nature Vegetarian Food, 519 High St. Fantastic meat substitute dishes.
- Real Meat Pies, 68 Whites Line East, Waiwhetu. Best pies in Wellington. Try the award winning Roast Lamb & Mint Sauce. Normal business hours only.
- Taste of Europe, 213 Waiwhetu Rd, Fairfield (7am to 3pm, 7 days)
The best range of pubs is on Jackson Street in Petone. Choose between several, including:
- Murphy's Law. The ubiquitous Irish pub.
- Firemans Arms. Good beer, good food.
- Speights Ale House. Restored Victorian pub with excellent restaurant and Speights beer on tap.
Most of the tap water in Lower Hutt is comes from the aquifer under the city. The water's pH is adjusted to prevent pipes corroding, but it is otherwise supplied untreated. Te Puna Wai Ora (the spring of life) at the intersection of Jackson and Buick Streets in Petone provides free water from the public supply to the general public.
- 1 Wellington Top 10 Holiday Park, 95 Hutt Park Road, Seaview, ☎ , toll-free: 0800 948 686. $50-$185.
- 2 83 by the Sea Motor Lodge, 83 The Esplanade, Petone, ☎ , toll-free: 0800 500 757. Motel accommodation on the shores of Wellington Harbour, with views of the city and sea. $135.
- 3 Settlers Motor Lodge, 83-85 Hutt Rd, Petone, ☎ , toll-free: 0800 838 583. Check-in: 14:00, check-out: 10:00. Quiet, family-run motel in the heart of Petone, 10 minutes from Wellington city and centrally located for whole Wellington region. $140-$220.
The Hutt River occasionally floods the riverbank carparks and the area around Melling Bridge, near the railway station. Be prepared to park somewhere else during or after very heavy rain, as the river does rise quickly.
Suburbs such as Naenae, Taita, Pomare and Stokes Valley tend to have reputations as lower socioeconomic zones due to these areas having been developed with a lot of state rental housing. However this is mostly a reputation that arises through a misunderstanding of the cultural differences between the wide variety of ethnic backgrounds of the inhabitants.
- Lower Hutt Police Station, 19–23 Kings Crescent, Lower Hutt Central, ☎ .
- Hutt Hospital serves the whole Hutt Valley area. The Emergency department is best access off Pilmiur Street, though the High Street entry can be used. The hospital and grounds are a non-smoking area - for health reasons.
- Further up the valley is Upper Hutt.