Cycleway Category: Official NZ Cycling Trail
From the head of Wellington Harbour, the Rimutaka Cycle Trail cuts through the bush-clad Rimutaka 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 Rimutaka Range on the Rimutaka 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 Rimutaka 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.
WAIRARAPA MOANA WETLANDS
Heading towards the coast on the Cross Creek to Ocean Beach section of the trail is Lake Onoke, part of the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Park.
Comprising the beds of lakes Wairarapa and Onoke and the surrounding reserves, this wetland is home to indigenous and migratory waterbirds including banded dotterel, Caspian tern, bar-tailed godwit and the pied stilt.
The area is a historically productive food and material resource for local Maori, and a place of spiritual importance.
The southernmost point of the trail is Turakirae Head, which has the unique geological formation of raised beaches. The headland is home to a colony of up to 500 fur seals.
All sections of the Trail are open to walkers and some sections include road riding. Please respect other users and follow the code of conduct for shared-use tracks:
- Check the weather forecast before your trip.
- Wear strong lace-up footwear and carry warm and waterproof clothing and enough food and drink for your trip.
- Carry sun protection.
- Plan your route and tell someone your intentions
- Respect that other users have different, and valid, reasons for being there.
- Anticipate other users around corners or in blind spots.
- Expect the unexpected; cycle at a speed from which you can stop safely if a hazard arises.
- Do not startle other users – greet them when approaching, especially from behind.
- Be aware of and obey the New Zealand Road Code when riding on-road sections.
- Common sense and courtesy prevail at all times.
- If you come across farm animals on the road, please stop. The farmer will assist you to get through.
SPECIFIC SAFETY NOTES FOR THE RIMUTAKA CYCLE TRAIL
- Go well prepared as beyond the first section there are no shops along the trail.
- Take a torch for the tunnels.
- Remote areas with little or no cell phone coverage between Tunnel Gully and Cross Creek and around the South Coast.
- Traffic sense needed on the road from Cross Creek to Ocean Beach.
- Potential for cold and wet weather during southerlies when on the South Coast section.
- Parts of the trail pass through private farmland. Please leave all gates as found.
- Should you encounter farm animals being moved on the trail, please either stop or keep well clear, and only pass stock when it is clearly safe to do so, or on the instructions of the farmer.
- Light fires only in the fireplaces in the designated camping sites. In times of high risk, there is a total ban on all fires. You are welcome to bring your portable gas stove.
- Please take your rubbish home and recycle where possible.
MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: The areas between Tunnel Gully and Cross Creek and around the south coast are remote and have little or no cellphone coverage.
DRINKING WATER: Carry enough water and food for your trip, as after the first section there are no shops.