Rimutaka Cycle Trail
The Rimutaka Cycle Trail starts right out of Wellington’s door, traverses the Rimutaka Ranges, and winds across the Wairarapa Valley until it arrives at the mouth of the Orongorongo River.
The start of the Rimutaka Cycle Trail is at the head of the Wellington Harbour. The trail then leaves the city and heads to the densely forested Rimutaka Mountain Range where it passes through tunnels on an old rail under the mountain before circling the rugged southern coast.
The Hutt River Trail makes up the first stage of easy cycling along a riverside cycle path. During summer, the inviting swimming spots in this big river are perfect places to cool off, and the numerous scenic areas beside it are ideal places to enjoy a picnic.
As you pedal on, the trail slowly steps up as it ascends to the top of Hutt Valley. Leaving the valley, the trail passes through the Pakuratahi Forest via the Tunnel Gully area, which was once the main railway line connecting Wairarapa to Wellington.
Riders will then pedal along the Rimutaka Rail Trail, a celebrated and historic trail in the region, to get to the northern end of the Rimutaka Range.
Coming out of Wairarapa, a sheep-farming region also brimming with vineyards, the trail runs alongside a country road past Lake Wairarapa on the way to Ocean Beach.
This is the final leg of the cycle trail suitably named the Wild Coast. While it’s the shortest, it’s also the most demanding: It wraps around Turakirae Head where the Rimutaka Range plunges into the wild Pacific Ocean.
To go back to the city of Wellington, follow the trail heading west to the mouth of the Orongorongo River where you can take the road link back to the city at the Wainuiomata Coast Road.
Wairarapa Moana Wetlands
Close to Ocean Beach lies Lake Onoke, a 1,500-acre brackish coastal lake that is part of the Wairarapa Moana Wetlands Park. An area of spiritual importance to Maori, the wetlands comprise lagoons, mudflats, marshlands, salt marshes, sand flats and back waters, and provide shelter to native and migratory waterbirds. Caspian tern, pied stilt, banded dotterel and bar-tailed godwit can all be spotted taking residence in the park, suggestive of the area’s historical abundance. Archaeological research says Maori first settled here in the 12th century as the area provided a rich source of food and materials.
Turakirae Head marks the southernmost point of the trail. Raised beaches that resulted from its unique geological formation make it a perfect sanctuary for a colony of fur seals. Up to 500 of them call the headlands home.