The Grey­town Trail - an idyllic 5km walk

Walking New Zealand - - Front Page -

The Grey­town Trail in the Wairarapa is a scenic 5km walk­ing and cy­cling track con­nect­ing Grey­town’s qui­eter streets to the near­est train sta­tion at Wood­side.

There is a small carpark at the end of Cot­ter Street, South Grey­town. The be­gin­ning of the trail is marked with an over­head sign and an in­for­ma­tion board.

The track fenced on both sides, winds be­tween old oak trees on one side, and

flaxes on the other. Then a straight bit runs be­tween two mounds or stop­banks, and is edged by trees.

The lime­stone track is com­pletely flat, but look­ing east down the track, and you see the dark green bulk of the Tararua Ranges in the dis­tance es­pe­cially in the af­ter­noon.

Grey­town is 60m above sea level while Wood­side is 91m, so it is a slightly an up­hill walk or cy­cle to Wood­side Sta­tion and some peo­ple seem to have no­ticed the dif­fer­ence when go­ing both ways.

Ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal it can be fine at Grey­town and rain­ing when you get closer to the hills at Wood­side and when you re­turn to Grey­town the weather is fine again.

Some of the time the trail runs through or along open pad­docks, other times it me­an­ders be­tween rows of mag­nif­i­cent old oak trees. Ac­cord­ing to the in­for­ma­tion board, th­ese trees were planted along­side the rails when the rail­way line was built in 1880, for fu­ture use as sleep­ers, but have never been used due to the line clos­ing in 1953.

The trail runs be­tween farms, some with sheep, oth­ers with cat­tle. Sheep can been seen graz­ing in the pad­docks. There are bench seats along in the shade un­der the oak trees.

At the 2.5km mark the trail crosses a coun­try road that also hap­pens to be the half way mark. There is an in­for­ma­tion sign show­ing the his­tory of the track.

The trail now crosses a stream with a bridge and runs along­side a row of pine trees, be­fore en­ter­ing open pad­docks again.

The end of the trail is near Wood­side sta­tion where a small sec­tion of the orig­i­nal rail­way track with the old sleep­ers is dis­played by the side of the trail. The rails were made in the UK in 1874.

Wood­side Sta­tion is a func­tion­ing rail­way sta­tion, serv­ing Grey­town on the Wairarapa Line. This line be­tween Welling­ton and Master­ton caters for the many com­muters who live in the Wair- arapa, but work in Welling­ton.

The old sta­tion is still there, on the other side of the rail­way line. When the new sta­tion was built, the old build­ing was used as a storage shed for some years, but was later abandoned.

One the re­turn jour­ney from Wood­side back to Grey­town one en­joys dif­fer­ent views with the Glad­stone hills form­ing a mag­nif­i­cent back­drop and off­set with deep green hues from trees that line the pretty colo­nial streets of Grey­town.

His­tory

The orig­i­nal sur­vey for the Wairarapa Line, com­pleted in 1876, con­sid­ered two routes for the line be­tween Feather­ston and Master­ton: the Cen­tral route and the West­ern route. De­spite the protes­ta­tions of the res­i­dents of Grey­town, the West­ern route was cho­sen due to con­cerns about the pos­si­bil­ity of flooding north of Grey­town, which meant that the line by­passed Grey­town and passed through Wood­side in­stead.

Wood­side opened on 14 May 1880 with the ex­ten­sion of the line from Feath-

er­ston. Un­til the line from Wood­side to Master­ton was com­pleted and opened in Novem­ber of that year, Wood­side was the north­ern ter­mi­nus of the Wairarapa Line and was op­er­ated by the Pub­lic Works De­part­ment, ini­tially with two mixed trains be­tween Grey­town and Welling­ton each day.

The ameni­ties at Wood­side ini­tially con­sisted of a sta­tion build­ing and sta­tion­mas­ter’s house. The sta­tion build­ing was on an is­land plat­form be­tween the main line and the Grey­town Branch, with the junc­tion at the south­ern end of the plat­form. There was road ac­cess from north of the plat­form. The branch (east- ern) side had two loops, with ca­pac­i­ties of 18 and 11 wag­ons, while on the main line (west­ern) side there were two loops with ca­pac­i­ties of 44 and 35 wag­ons.

Some years af­ter the clo­sure of the Grey­town Branch in 1953 the main line yard was re­moved, and the sta­tion build­ing re­lo­cated to a new plat­form on the west­ern side of the main line. A new cross­ing loop was in­stalled, and the branch sid­ings re­con­fig­ured.

In 1954 the Grey­town sta­tion build­ing was re­lo­cated to Wood­side and mod­i­fied to serve as a goods shed. It is now dis­used and the loop and sid­ings have been re­moved.

With the open­ing of the line to Master­ton and the re­ver­sion of the line to Grey­town to branch-line sta­tus, Wood­side be­came known as Wood­side Junc­tion un­til the clo­sure of the Grey­town Branch in 1953: the plat­form name board read “Wood­side Junc­tion. Change here for Grey­town.”

“The trail is the cul­mi­na­tion of years of hard work by a ded­i­cated group of Grey­town res­i­dents, the Grey­town Trails Trust,” says Barb Hyde, who is

the Mar­ket­ing Man­ager for Des­ti­na­tion Wairarapa.

The dual pur­pose track fol­lows the route of the Grey­town-Wood­side branch rail line, which closed in 1953. Stage one of the trail was com­pleted in 2011 and stage two in 2013 – with both stages be­ing a to­tal of 5km. The Trust holds reg­u­lar work­ing bees to en­sure the track is main­tained and lo­cal groups, such as the Ruama­hanga Ram­blers, of­ten choose it to base their reg­u­lar run­ning and walk­ing out­ings.

“Al­though, a short dis­tance from the Main Street of Grey­town - with its bou­tique shop­ping and bustling cafes – rid­ers feel like they are in the mid­dle of nowhere. Sur­rounded by farm­land, stun­ning ru­ral views with the only sound com­ing from nearby stock, it’s no won­der the trail has grown in pop­u­lar­ity for recre­ational cy­clists, walk­ers and run­ners over the years,” says Barb.

Plans are afoot to hope­fully con­nect the trail with the nearby town­ship of Feather­ston and to ex­tend the trail from Wood­side so it ex­tends north and loops back to Grey­town.

How to get there

From the Grey­town end, the 5km trail starts at Cot­ter Street, the sec­ond left off Humphries Road (turn off Main Street at the Chal­lenge Ser­vice Sta­tion) at the south­ern end of the town. You can also link up with an­other cy­cle­way run­ning from Udy Street to the Waio­hine River.

The Grey­town Trail is suit­able for prams, road and moun­tain bikes. It’s not suit­able for rac­ing bikes, horses or mo­tor­bikes. And please keep your dog on a leash.

If you’re ar­riv­ing by train, why not bring your bike and ride into town to work up an ap­petite for lunch? Or catch a pre-booked Rimu­taka Shut­tles or Mart­in­bor­ough Shut­tles from the sta­tion.

Above: Sheep graz­ing in a pad­dock be­side the track. Be­low left: The walk be­side the stop bank and flaxes.

Above left: The start at Cot­ter Street. Above right: A shel­ter belt not far from Wood­side. Be­low left: A sec­tion of rail and sleep­ers from the orig­i­nal line. Be­low right: At the half way mark - 2.5 kms from Grey­town.

Above: The track at the Grey­town end with the stop­bank on one side and plant­ings on the other. Be­low left: A fence with an en­trance just enough for one cy­clist.

Above: The track com­ing out from among the oak trees. Mid­dle be­low: Won­der­ing through the mag­nif­i­cent oaks thought to be grown to be used for rail sleep­ers. Be­low left: A bridge over a wa­ter course. Be­low right: The Wood­side Rail­way Sta­tion.

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