Rimutaka cycle trail

Written by      

Jonathan Kennett

The Rimutaka Cycle Trail follows riverside cycle paths, a historic rail trail, quiet country roads and a coastal route used by drovers in the 1840s. From Wellington Harbour, the trail circumnavigates the Rimutaka Range—a mountainous forest park dividing the lower North Island into the Wellington and Wairarapa regions.

The ride starts at the Petone foreshore, incorporating the Hutt River Trail, a very easy cycle path that runs beside the Hutt River. Both the beach and the river are popular for swimming in summer. The second stage of the ride crosses the top of the Rimutaka Range via a railway formation with tunnels and bridges that were built in the pioneering days when rail was king. The route then hugs the range and passes the expansive Lake Wairarapa en route to Palliser Bay.

From Palliser Bay, the final leg follows a rocky and wild coastline past Windy Point and Turakirae Head to one of the country’s older farms, Orongorongo Station. Elephantine rocks are dotted throughout a landscape of low coastal vegetation and, on a fine day, the ocean seems an impossibly rich shade of blue.

A recommended option is to branch off to Martinborough, the region’s wine-growing capital, for a night or two.