Porirua is a city in the Wellington urban area in the southern North Island of New Zealand. Porirua's central business district (CBD) is about 20 km north of the Wellington City CBD. The Porirua CBD is near the southern end of the city, south-west of the less picturesque of the two almost landlocked arms of the Porirua Harbour. Suburbs of the city include Mana, Paremata, Pauatahanui, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay and Titahi Bay. The city has a population of 56,000.
From Wellington City or Petone, take State Highway 1 up the Ngauranga Gorge and glide down the motorway to the Porirua offramp. The alternative route (compulsory for cyclists) from Johnsonville follows Middleton Road then goes through Tawa.
From Wairarapa and most of the Hutt Valley, take State Highway 58 over the Haywards Hill to Pauatahanui; then go straight ahead at the roundabout to go to most parts of the city (or turn right for the most northerly suburbs). The quick way to the CBD is to follow the State highway along the south shore of the Pauatahanui Inlet to State Highway 1 at the occasionally congested Paremata Roundabout and turn left to drive south-west to the Porirua offramp; to take a little longer but get a close-up view of housing and lakes, turn left just past the roundabout to go through Whitby and eastern suburbs.
From Manawatu or Kapiti Coast, follow the signs that say "Porirua" and/or "Wellington" and you will be in Porirua's northern suburbs 10-15 minutes after leaving Paekakariki: first is Pukerua Bay, where Peter Jackson first made movies and where poets Alistair and Meg Campbell lived when they were alive; next is Plimmerton, about which Denis Glover wrote a poem.
From Wellington railway station, catch a suburban unit on the Kapiti Line: about $6 to Porirua, $7.50 to Paremata or Plimmerton (but discounts from 9AM to 3PM). Units leave about every half hour. There are express units at peak times – before boarding, check that the unit will be stopping at the station you want. All stop at Porirua, but some go no further, and some go on but do not stop again until Plimmerton.
From the Waikanae, Paraparaumu and Paekakariki stations to the north, service is not quite as frequent.
At Porirua the main shopping centre is just across the stream from the main railway station, and buses depart for numerous suburbs. Other stations are Kenepuru in the south (within walking distance of the Kenepuru Hospital and parts of Linden), then north from the city centre in order Paremata (where buses leave for Whitby), Mana, Plimmerton, Pukerua Bay, and Muri.
Suburban trains carry bicycles for an extra adult fare. Bicycles are stored in the low floor area in the south car of each pair of units — enter the train through the lime green doors (not the navy blue ones). You can't carry your bicycle on during peak times. Wheelchair travel is OK, with train crew happy to get the ramp in place and help you in and out (also at the lime green doors).
Interprovincial buses generally stop at Plimmerton, Paremata, and central Porirua. Regular services link Porirua with Wellington's northern suburbs from Johnsonville (a suburban train terminus) to Tawa/Linden. There are no direct local buses to Wellington, however service N6 runs to Porirua and Plimmerton from central Wellington on Friday and Saturday nights at 1AM, 2AM and 3AM. The one-way fare is $10
Mana Transport operate numerous services which mostly operate out of the rail station's forecourt to Porirua's suburbs as well as towards surrounding towns. Fares are based on distance — a typical city-suburb journey will cost about $3. Wellington's Snapper Card is accepted.
- 1 Colonial Knob (Trail up the mountain begins on the western side of Porirua). It may get snow in winter but at other times is a rewarding few hours' walk for great views of Cook Strait and beyond.
- 2 Gear Homestead, 1 Okowai Rd. It was built for a meat magnate, and is now the home of a pottery group and highly sought after for wedding receptions.
- 3 New Zealand Police Museum, Royal New Zealand Police College, Papakowhai Rd, Papakowhai (Take the Aotea Lagoon/Papakowhai (Whitford Brown) highway exit from State Highway 1, about 2 km north of Porirua (on the right travelling north) or 1 km south of the Paremata roundabout (on the left travelling south). Turn left at the foot of the hill into Papakowhai Road and look out for the signs), ☎ . Daily 10AM–5PM except Christmas Day and Good Friday. General admission is free though special tours may cost as much as $5.
- 4 Pataka Art + Museum, cnr Norrie St & Parumoana St. A museum and art gallery. There is a Japanese Garden (contributed by sister city Nishio) and at the adjacent public library you can see one of the North Island's best genealogical collections. Free.
- 5 Pauatahanui Inlet. At its eastern end is a wildlife sanctuary that has one of the highest densities of copepods in the world.
- 6 Plimmerton Beach (One minute from the railway station). Maybe watch yet another future world champion windsurfer or boardsailor beating the breezes. The area near the beach is one of the Porirua's oldest settlements, dating from the nineteenth century when Plimmer and others pushed the Wellington and Manawatu Railway through.
- 7 Takapuwahia Marae. The headquarters of the Ngati Toa tribe, who immigrated from the Waikato in the 1820s under Te Rauparaha; across the harbour, see the small historic reserve in Plimmerton where the Government captured him in 1846, and which seems to be in better condition than the ruins of the stone fort that was built in the same year at "Parramatta" (now the Ngatitoa Domain) but dismembered by an earthquake very soon after.
- 1 Battle Hill Farm Forest Park, 610 Paekakariki Hill Rd, Pauatahanui. A regional park north-east of the urban area that combines farming with public recreation. You can view the site of one of the "Hutt Valley Campaign" battles of 1846.
Fast-growing tertiary institution, Whitireia Polytechnic, has headquarters just north of central business district and several campuses in other cities.
A major attraction of central Porirua is its shops and mall, with the 12-storey Wrightson Building (linking with New Zealand's earliest pastoral service companies) overlooking most. Saturday morning early birds may pick up fresh cheap produce at the central city open-air market.
There are 3 major supermarkets. New World, in North City Mall opposite the train station, has the highest quality products but is a little pricey. Cheaper Countdown and Pak'n'Save supermarkets are 5 minutes walk to the north.
The only 24-hour stores for late night snacks, pies, and cigarettes etc are the small convenience stores attached to gas stations around the city. They do not sell alcohol, but nearby liquor stores are also open late.
The usual bakeries, fast-food restaurants (Porirua was home to the first McDonald's restaurant in New Zealand, which opened in June 1976), dairies (convenience stores), fish & chip shops and Chinese takeaways can be found around the city. The North City Mall (opposite Porirua train station) has a large foodcourt with the usual Asian and fast food.
- 1 Curry Village, 19 Hartham Place North (between Titahi Bay Rd and Lyttelton Ave), ☎ . Daily 11:30AM–2:30PM and 5–9:30PM.
- 2 Top Taste Restaurant, 1 Hagley St (near the intersection with Lyttelton Ave, south of Te Rauparaha Park), ☎ . M–Sa 11AM–3PM and 4:30–10PM; Sun 4–10PM.
Nightlife and bars in Porirua are almost non-existent — most Poriruaites will head to downtown Wellington on Friday and Saturday nights — if you stay out late enough it's possible to return to Porirua at around 5AM when the first trains start running in the morning, alternatively a night-bus (N6) runs hourly between midnight and 4AM from Courtney Place to Porirua (continuing to Plimmerton) - one way $10. There are a handful of small bars (known as 'Taverns') close to the North City shopping mall; however, they lack atmosphere, can become very rowdy and should be avoided.
You cannot taste all the city's delights in one day, so a motel or hostel may appeal, or one of several bed-and-breakfast establishments.
- 1 Belmont Motorlodge, 1 Mungavin Ave (right next to Highway 1), ☎ .
- 2 Moana Lodge Hostel, 49 Moana Rd, Plimmerton (20-min walk from Plimmerton railway station). Bed in shared dorm $38, single room $70.
Porirua has a reputation amongst many Wellingtonians as being unsafe because it is one of the Wellington regions 'lower' socio-economic zones. Though that much may be exaggerated by locals, it does have a higher crime rate than the rest of the Wellington region.
Apply usual safety rules when you are not in controlled areas: no flashing valuables or wearing expensive clothing. A tourist's biggest risk is having personal belongings stolen, by use of some form of violence.
Special precautions should also be taken in Porirua's eastern suburbs (Cannons Creak, Elsdon and Ascot Park).
- Hutt Valley
- Kapiti Coast, north up State Highway 1, or via the Paekakariki Hill road from Pauatahanui, has several good beaches. Paekakariki Hill offers an excellent view and a hang-gliding ridge.
- Wellington City