Featherston to Wellington

The Remutaka Cycle Trail is justifiably heralded as one of the great New Zealand rides. It offers two ways into Wellington: around the rough southern coast; or via the comparatively sedate Remutaka Rail Trail and Hutt River Trail. Alternatively both sections can be ridden as a single loop.

Featherston to Wellington via Ōrongorongo Station

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For those set up to ride over a bit of rough this is a great way to cycle into Wellington. Start the day by heading out along the Western Lake Road. To your left is Lake Wairarapa, contoured by the mountain ranges of Aorangi Forest Park. To your right the Remutaka Forest Park rises above you. At about the 20 km mark you leave the lake behind as you pass through farmland, with the road rising after about 15 more km to reveal views over Lake Onoke and out to Cape Palliser. The road turns to gravel as it descends into Ocean Beach where a few baches dot the coastline.

Corner Creek Campsite

A few kilometres along the coast you arrive at the Corner Creek DOC campground. Ocean Beach Road continues right around the coast over a rough 4WD track. While much has been done to improve the track since its adoption as a New Zealand Cycle Trail ride, it is still pretty rough, with sections immediately after Camp Creek too sandy to ride.

Ōrongorongo Station, at the mouth of the Ōrongorongo River, is the official end of the Remutaka Cycle Trail. From the river mouth it's a further 21 km to Wainuiomata along the quiet, rural, and fully sealed Wainuiomata Coast Road. There is the option to camp at the Catchpool Valley DOC campground in the Remutaka Forest Park (about 9 km up the coast road). From Wainuiomata a cycle lane follows the single link road down into Seaview on the outskirts of Petone (campground).

The trees tell the story

Most people, though, continue along the coast. From the Ōrongorongo river mouth, continue up Wainuiomata Coast Road for about 4 km until you see signage on your left for the East Harbour Regional Park (link opens in Google Street View). Cross over the bridge then turn right and follow the road over the hill to the quiet, gravel, Pencarrow Coast Road into Eastbourne. From Days Bay you can either catch a ferry into Wellington or continue the further 20 km around the harbour.

Note that a section of Pencarrow Coast Road is privately owned and continued access is at the discretion of the owners. Be respectful of this.

Choose your time and keep an eye on the weather. This coastline can clearly get pretty rough. But if the weather Gods are smiling then this area of stark and rugged beauty is well worth the trip.

Featherston to Wellington via the Remutaka Rail Trail

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Remutaka Summit

This is great riding with most of the day spent on dedicated walking/cycle tracks. Head out of Featherston along Western Lake Road. After about 10 km you come to a turnoff right into Cross Creek Road which takes you up and into Pākuratahi Forest and the Remutaka Rail Trail, a walking/cycle trail following the original route of the Wairarapa line, with several historic tunnels and restored railway bridges.

From the roadside a shortish section of easy single track takes you up to Cross Creek where there is the opportunity to camp. A well graded 4WD trail continues right through to Upper Hutt, with further camping available along the Summit and at Ladle Bend. The main track ends at the Kaitoke carpark where it meets up with SH2. Here though, rather than brave the highway traffic, signage directs you left onto Incline Road, turning off after a few hundred metres onto the Tunnel Gully track, finally terminating at Maymorm Station.

On the Remutaka Rail Trail

From Maymorm Station follow Maymorm Road down into Plateau. Just around the corner from the dairy a short connector track skirts the highway for a few km before joining up with the Hutt River Trail, a dedicated walking/cycling track which follows the river to its mouth at Petone.

Petone, one of the oldest European settlements in the Wellington Region, has plenty of shops and cafés and is worth an explore. From here a well signposted network of cycle paths takes you the remaining 15 km into Wellington - not always the smoothest ride, but safely off the main highway. As an alternative you can ride to Days Bay in Eastbourne and take the ferry into Wellington. For a camp with a difference catch the sailing which stops off at Somes (Matiu) Island, a scenic reserve in the middle of Wellington Harbour where there is a DOC campsite.