New Zealand Walk: Trail great for families with kids
The Rimutaka Rail Trail is a gently graded 18 km walk or mountain bike ride and makes up part of the Nga Haerenga, New Zealand Cycle Trail, ‘Great Ride’, Rimutaka Cycle Trail.
The walk is excellent for families with children who can be coaxed along by the next railway ruin, old rail bridge or tunnel (definitely take a torch). The walk is graded as intermediate.
A rail route established in 1878 between the Hutt Valley and Featherston carried passengers up the steep incline from the Rimutaka summit to Featherston until the opening of the Rimutaka Rail Tunnel in 1955. The innovative Fell mountain railway system pulled trains up the steep slope of the Rimutaka Incline.
Interpretation panels telling the colourful stories associated with the former rail line have been installed along the trail.
There are plenty of photo opportunities along the trail, and a viewing platform located between the Summit and Siberia Tunnels offers a panoramic view of the old Fell engine route coming up from Cross Creek to the Summit.
To get a better feel for the history of the trail, make sure to take time to visit the Fell Engine Museum in Featherston.
There’s camping at Ladle Bend and the Summit along the Rimutaka Rail Trail. The camping area at Ladle Bend lies below the Rail Trail near the Pakuratahi River. There is a pit toilet at Ladle Bend and flush toilets at the Summit. How to get there Turn off SH 2, 9 km north of Upper Hutt, the turn off is signposted to Pakuratahi Forest. The carpark is 1 km along a metal road.
You can also access the trail from Cross Creek in the Rimutaka Forest Park, about an hour and 15 minutes drive from Wellington across the Rimutaka Hill Road. Turn onto Moore St, Featherston, continue into Western Lake Rd, and turn right onto Cross Creek Road.