New Zealand Walk: Railway trail popular with walkers as well as cyclists
The famous Rimutaka Incline converted to a walking and biking track follows the famous Rimutaka Incline railway line. From part way through the Summit Tunnel down to the rail yards the slope is typically 1 in 15 - a modest gradient for a mountain bike, but extremely steep for a railway line.
Along the way there are three tunnels to pass through (in order, from the top): Summit Tunnel (576m long), Siberia Tunnel (108m long), and Prices Tunnel (98m long).
It is advisable to take a light of some form for the Summit Tunnel. Although the Summit Tunnel is straight - so the other end is always visible - it can be quite a disorienting experience with only the light at the far end of the tunnel for guidence.
The other tunnels are curved but are sufficiently short that they don’t really require a light (though having a light wouldn’t hurt).
About 0.4km down hill from the Summit Tunnel there is a lookout (down a spur) that provides sweeping views of the valley. The views are worth the short diversion.
Just below the Siberia Tunnel is Horseshoe Gully - otherwise known as “Siberia” due to the local micro-climate. There was a curved earth embankment across the gully until, in 1967, it was washed away.
Now there is a deep gully that has signs stating “Steep, slippery approach to creek bed. Cyclists are advised to dismount and walk”. Chances are you’ll have to dismount to cross the creek and ascend the other side anyway. Note that the track on the summit side of the gully is about 25m upstream of the track on the Cross Creek side.
As would be expected from an old railway line, the track itself is fairly smooth and evenly
graded with gentle curves. Nonetheless, watch out for the occasional rut and stone on the track - especially if descending at speed.
The bottom of the track is at the old rail yards that formed the Cross Creek Station and settlement. From there, either return back up the incline or continue along the Cross Creek trackRimutaka Rail Trail – 3 hours one way
Turn off SH 2, 9 km north of Upper Hutt, the turn off is signposted to Pakuratahi Forest. The car park is 1km along a metal road.
You can also access the trail from Cross Creek in the Rimutaka Forest Park, about 15 minutes drive from Featherston. Turn onto Moore Street, Featherston, continue onto Western Lake Road, and turn right onto Cross Creek Road.
Shuttles can be arranged for return transport. Above right: Members of the Wednesday Trampers at the Summit of the Rimutaka Incline.