Find these steps – Hankey Street, in the Mt Cook area of Wellington, can be found at the top of Thompson Street and the lower access is a short walk from Taranaki Street, just before Bidwill Street, and across from Wellington High School.
Ms Irvine-Smith, author of Streets of My City, gives a very brief history of the street. It is named for Thomas Allers Hankey, a London banker connected with the New Zealand Commercial Company – members of which also provided the names of Constable Street, Dixon Street, nearby Hopper Street, as well as several others around town – which Ms Irvine-Smith calls “Company Streets.”
Hankey Street is in several parts – the lower flat street just off Taranaki, then the steps and elevation from the section above to the next higher section, a short flat stretch, and then on to bushy – and often very busy – zigzag steps to the top.
It is a good uphill walk – 48 steps from lower Hankey street and then 145 more to the top.
To reach the steps from Taranaki Street you pass the new, sleek housing complex recently (2013 – 2018) built by Wellington City Council and a little neighbourhood dairy, and there, guarded by a sturdy horseman, is the beginning of the steps.
From the top of that first section you pass Council housing on one side and little cottages on the other to reach the foot of the next set of stairs. a grand zigzag that climbs the hill to Thompson Street.
Looking down the first set of steps toward Taranaki Street.
This is a fun set of steps – it winds around in its own seclusion, bushy, and surprising in a city.
You begin a wonderful walk up past little houses and gardens, and you may even hear tui, fantails, and chickens as you pass by.
One of the houses is designed by noted New Zealand architect Bill Toomath.
Te Kohanga Reo National Trust Board is sited at the top of Hankey Street, in the former Anderson House, built in 1875 and designed by an unknown architect. David Anderson was an early English settler, arriving in 1849 and immediately opened a grocery and spirit store, and became one of Wellington’s successful merchants.
Behind this grand collection of trees is a park dedicated to Peter Harcourt, known for his work in radio and on the stage, his successful effort to save the St James Theatre, and, also, this park.