Rimutaka trail extended
The Rimutaka Incline trail has long been a popular family cycling expedition, but now it is possible to start your mission further south taking in the upgraded Hutt River trail.
The combined trails offer a whole day outing or a good start to a full weekend.
It is possible to get there from Petone Station, using the short Hutt Road cycle way, under the Petone Esplanade rail bridge and following the Esplanade to Hikoikoi Reserve and the Hutt River Trail. How to get there Take a train to Petone Station, or to Featherston Station.
Alternatively, drive or ride to the east side of the estuary bridge across the Hutt River to begin the ride north along the river.
From Featherston Railway Station head east across State Highway 2 and then take West Lake Rd to Cross Creek to pick up the rail trail, about 10km along a quiet road. Advice Bike route guide author Jonathon Kennett said he had never experienced difficulty getting his bike on to the train, but if you are travelling in a group, he advised calling TranzMetro Group Bookings on 498 3103 before leaving.
‘‘Let them know you are a group travelling with bikes and they’ll make sure the larger carriage is put on.’’
When you get up in the morning, check the wind before making a decision about which way to travel.
The rail trail between Featherston and Upper Hutt is reasonably sheltered but the Hutt River trail is exposed, Mr Kennett said.
‘‘If it’s a really good northerly, catch the train to Featherston and ride back, with the wind behind you on the Hutt River Trail. You might as well enjoy riding downwind.’’
The Hutt River Trail and the Incline Trail
From Hikoikoi Reserve follow the river trail and the footpath across the estuary bridge to the east side of the river and the start of the Hutt River Trail.
The trail runs all the way to Mangaroa River, where a pathway under the bridge crosses State Highway 2.
Follow the path to Te Marua dairy up Plateau Rd to Maymorn Station and follow the signs to the Incline Trail via Tunnel Gully. Beware of a T-intersection where the signpost points right to the Incline. Turning either way will get you there, but the route to the right is via a huge hill. To the left is slightly longer but easier and takes no longer.
When you get to the Incline Trail it’s plain sailing to Cross Creek. Highlights The rail trail is the highlight, especially the summit tunnel.
It is 600 metres long and a torch or bike headlight is useful.
‘‘The summit tunnel is quite incredible really. Stop on the eastern side and look back – that is definitely the photo spot,’’ Mr Kennett said.
There is also a waterfall by the tunnel exit, but you won’t see it if you don’t stop and look back, he said.
The river trail from Petone and Ewen Bridge is a great community asset, he said.
‘‘I think Hutt City Council has done an amazing job.’’
People take more than a million walking or cycling trips along it each year, he said. When you get there Cross Creek – ‘‘Ring for a shuttle service to take you to Martinborough for the weekend, or cycle 10km to Featherston and catch the train home.’’
In Featherston, the Fell Engine Museum is well worth a visit to see the special trains that once crossed the incline and an excellent video.
Cyclists travelling from Cross Creek to Petone will have something else to look forward to – ‘‘an icecream and a swim’’.
Photo op: Cyclists pause at the Wairarapa entrance to the Summit Tunnel on the Rimutaka Incline Trail.