A rewarding way to explore the capital’s rich natural environment, this readily accessible trail begins on Wellington harbour and heads up the Hutt River though green, city fringes. On reaching the forested Remutaka Ranges, it climbs gently over the mountains on an old railway line to reach the rural Wairarapa. Riders can easily detour to see its sights – including wineries and pretty villages – before skirting around the rugged coast back towards Wellington city.
This trail starts 15 minutes’ car or train journey from downtown Wellington, and can be ridden in 2–3 days or broken into sections using public transport or shuttles, and accommodation near the trail. It is commonly started at Petone in Wellington harbour, although it can be ridden in either direction.
From Petone foreshore it winds along the Hutt River Trail, a leisurely pathway through leafy urban areas and riverside reserves. The city sights of Lower and Upper Hutt are just a short detour away.
Maymorn marks the 35km mark, from where the trail heads into bushy mountain foothills and follows the old Remutaka Rail Trail up to a spooky 576m tunnel and other historic relics near the summit. The trail whizzes down to Cross Creek in the Wairarapa, Wellington’s rural neighbour, where eager riders can detour to Featherston or Martinborough for a taste of wine-country by bike or pre-arranged shuttle.
Arguably the trail’s most enjoyable section, the Remutaka Rail Trail can easily be completed as a day trip by hiring a bike and catching a train from downtown Wellington to Maymorn, cycling the Rail Trail to Featherston, then boarding a train back to the capital.
From Cross Creek to Ocean Beach, the trail follows a quiet road through verdant farmland and along the shores of Lake Wairarapa and then Lake Onoke, a haven for birds.
The last section to the Orongorongo River clings to the rugged south coast with epic views of the Cook Strait, and the South Island’s Kaikoura Ranges on fine days. The trail finishes at the Wainuiomata Coast Road, the pick-up point for pre-arranged shuttle services.