The Rimutaka Cycle Trail explores the fantastic landscapes and history of the greater Wellington Region. Fly into the 'Coolest Little Capital', and on your doorstep is the Rimutaka Cycle Trail which explores bush, countryside and windswept coastline on exciting and not too challenging terrain.
The Rimutaka Cycle Trail was officially opened in 2013. Beginning in Petone, the trail circumnavigates the dense bush of the Rimutaka Mountain Range, passing through historic tunnels and descending into the renowned wine-lands of South Wairarapa. From there, country roads take you to the rugged coast, and around through the isolated Orongorongo Station. The trail is best enjoyed over three days.
Petone to Upper Hutt (30 km)
A short journey on Wellington's modern train network will get you to the trendy seaside subhurb of Petone. It is worth starting the day with a coffee and exploring the quant and quirky shops along Jackson Street. Otherwise, follow the shoreline esplanade up to the mouth of the Hutt River where the trail crosses the bridge and sets off up the Hutt River Trail. You can expect scenic picnic areas and many places to rest and take in the views, or even take a dip in the river on a warm day. The trail slowly climbs to the head of the Hutt Valley where various accommodation options can be found.
Upper Hutt to Lake Wairarapa (50 km)
Follow the trail up the river until it heads towards Maymourn and onto the historic rail route of Tunnel Gully. The next 25 km is a treat, with a gradual climb up to Summit Station, passing through numerous Victorian brick tunnels and old wodden rail bridges. Take a head torch for the tunnels - they can be long and dark and up to 400 metres long! You now have a well deserved descent down one of the steepest rail routes in the world, with plenty of historical descriptions along the route, which required a special type of locomotive to manage the incline.
Cyclists will then arrive in the Wairarapa region which is rightly famous for its vineyards and world-class wine. Here, cyclists can either cycle into Featherston, arrange a shuttle to enjoy some luxury in Martinborough, or carry on past Lake Wairarapa towards Ocean Beach, where there are several Bed and Breakfast options.
Lake Wairarapa to Orongorongo (35 km)
The final and most adventurous section - named The Wild Coast - passes around Turakirae Head where the Rimutaka Range ends at the Pacific Ocean. Hope for either no wind or a tail wind, as this exposed coastline can be quite a challenge otherwise. But on a clear day, views overlook the Cook Straight, with the Kaikoura Range in the distance and the steep and rugged hillsides on your right. You pass through the isolated Orongorongo Station before reaching the end of the trail at the mouth of the Orongorongo River. Short sections of this trail can be sandy or scree-covered and may be difficult to ride.
A shuttle can collect you from here, or a further 20 km will take you through to Days Bay where you can enjoy a meal and take a ferry back across the harbour to Wellington.