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"How was the ride so far?" I ask Phillipa at the end of day one. She was soaked. "Sweat?" I wondered to myself.
"Hot!" she exclaimed "But that is all good, we got to Upper Hutt and couldn't resist that river any longer. It is amazing that you can swim in a river this close to Wellington, the capital city!"
The Hutt River is a favourite of locals, cool clean and clear, it's many swimming holes are safe often with rocks and natural platforms you can launch yourself from. It is a great way to end the day or break your ride.
"This is easier than I expected", noted Cameron, a visitor from Victoria Australia as we neared the summit of the Rimutaka Incline. "The scenery is awesome, you just don't find so much lush green bush where I come from. But I ride 25 kilometres a day, so this is no problem.
We stopped to enjoy lunch in the sun and talked about the history of the rail trail. 25 minutes later after 3 tunnels (the longest is 580 metres) and 7km of thrilling downhill riding we stop to chat at Cross Creek Carpark. "That was awesome!!!" says a slightly breathless Cameron. Breathless from excitement rather than exhaustion. It isn't a technically challenging ride down into the Wairarapa valley but with the views and, in our case, the speed, you would struggle to find anyone who is not left a little breathless by the experience.
As we arrive at Ocean Beach on the wild coast of Palliser Bay, the wind has come up. "Eeek" I hear a screech as a gust of wind races through. The waves are pounding next to us as we push our bikes through a sandy stretch of the trail. The sun is out and the wind is blowing, warm from the Northwest. Seaspray is being whipped about dramatically further out in the Cook Strait. This is exhilarating weather. As we get closer to our destination, bouncing along the rock path on mountainbikes we spot Turakirae head and have a close encounter of the seal kind, we are able to get within a safe distance of these beautiful, but smelly creatures before we start to spot them everywhere.
Tired but happy we make it to the end of the trail, passing rock-climbers 'bouldering', clinging on to massive rocks like spiders. Some divers stop for a chat, they have been out to collect kaimoana (seafood) along the coast, Paua (abalone) and Crayfish (lobster) for diner that night. We are looking forward to shelter and some fish and chips for ourselves.