From the head of Wellington Harbour, the Remutaka Cycle Trail cuts through the bush-clad Remutaka Mountain Range, passing through tunnels on an old rail trail, and skirting around the wild southern coast.
The first stage is an easy riverside cycle path called the Hutt River Trail. There are plenty of scenic picnic areas beside this large river and great swimming spots to cool off on a hot summer’s day as the trail gradually climbs to the head of the Hutt Valley.
Beyond the valley the trail enters the Tunnel Gully area in the Pakuratahi Forest on what was once the main railway line between Wellington and the Wairarapa.
Riders will then cross the northern end of the Remutaka Range on the Remutaka Rail Trail, one of the most popular and historic trails in the region.
After emerging in the Wairarapa, famous for vineyards and sheep farming, the trail follows a country road past Lake Wairarapa to Ocean Beach.
The final section is the shortest, but also the most adventurous. Aptly named the Wild Coast, it skirts around Turakirae Head, where the Remutaka Range dives into the pounding Pacific Ocean.
The trail then runs west to the mouth of the Orongorongo River where the Wainuiomata Coast Rd provides a road link back to the city of Wellington.
The first section of the trail runs mostly along the banks of the Hutt River, through parkland on the fairly easy-grade paths of the popular Hutt River Trail. Beginning at Petone Wharf, riders then head along the foreshore to the mouth of the Hutt River, historic site of the Hikoikoi pa, one of the largest Maori settlements in pre-European New Zealand.
The trail then follows the river northeast through the parklike public corridor on both sealed and gravelled pathways. Eventually leaving the riverbank at Te Marua, riders follow a short road section to the entrance to Tunnel Gully to begin the second part of the trail.
Beginning with Tunnel Gully, riders travel through the historic Maymorn Tunnel and lush green bush to Kaitoke.
After a short public road, it’s back into the bush to follow the old railway route.
From Ladle Bend Bridge the trail travels through plantation forestry to Summit. From Summit the trail descends along the path of the historic Fell Locomotive Incline.
With three railway tunnels on the descent, including the 576m Summit Tunnel, some form of light is advisable.
Riders emerge from the ranges at Cross Creek, into the expanse of the Wairarapa.
CROSS CREEK TO OCEAN BEACH
36 km, 2-3 hours, Grade 3 (Intermediate) on-road
Some riders may opt to turn northeast on Western Lake Rd to the town of Featherston (12km) to finish their day’s ride. The trail, however, turns southwest and runs alongside the shore of Lake Wairarapa .
This section is a gentle descent on a sealed public road, easily ridden, with some care required for occasional motor vehicles. Riders will travel through rich farmland, where sheep and cattle have grazed since Europeans first settled in the 19th century.
Towards the coast riders pass Lake Onoke, part of the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Park, before reaching the big blue of Cook Strait at Ocean Beach.
The final section runs along the South Coast, with the Cook Strait on your left and hill country to your right. On a clear day, the snow-capped peaks of the South Island’s Kaikoura Ranges are visible across the water.
Much of the land is part of the Orongorongo Sheep Station. The landscape is one of stark and rugged beauty, but do keep an eye on the weather while planning and riding, as this section is exposed to strong winds.
After exploring Turakirae Head, the trail runs north to the mouth of the Orongorongo River where there is a road link back to the city of Wellington.
This section provides the most challenging trail conditions with rocky and sandy sections.
Credit Photo & Content to NZ Cycle Trail
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At the northern end of Wellington Harbour, Petone is the official start point of the Rimutaka Cycle Trail (Remutaka Cycle Trail)., -41.2318, 174.8894