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Top reasons to ride the Rimutaka Cycle Trail

The Rimutaka Cycle Trail offers a unique way to experience the Wellington region’s diverse landscapes and heritage. When you’re not pedalling through bush-clad valleys or along wild coastlines, slow it down and take time to explore some of the region’s cultural and culinary highlights along the way.

1. Lonely Planet think it’s tops

Rimutaka Cycle Trail 1

The travel gurus at Lonely Planet named the Rimutaka Cycle Trail in their list of hottest new travel experiences for 2015, saying the Trail shows off some of the best of the Wellington region’s “beautiful surrounds, from mountain to sea”. The 115km trail traverses the Wellington, Hutt Valley and Wairarapa, and is one of New Zealand’s Great Rides.

 

2. Experience the café culture

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Start the trail in Petone, just 15 minutes’ drive from downtown Wellington. This quaint seaside settlement is home to coffee roasteries and cafes galore, so it's the perfect place to fuel yourself for a day’s riding. Sample the healthy creations at Go Bang Espresso or fuel up on a hearty breakfast at Caffiend or Cafe Figg.  

3. Get cultured

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Petone is a site of historic significance. For a history lesson, visit the Petone Settler’s Museum and learn about some of New Zealand’s first settlers who arrived on the Petone shores.

Make sure you also wander vibrant Jackson Street and explore the many boutique shops. If art is your thing, check out the striking installations and learn about Maori culture at the Dowse Art Museum in nearby Lower Hutt.

4. Take it easy or go hard

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The Rimutaka Cycle Trail is suitable for a range of ages and abilities. Whether you’re looking for a cruisy ride, or something a bit more challenging, you’ll find a section of the trail to suit.

  • The first section meanders through the Hutt Valley on fairly easy grade paths along the banks of the picturesque Hutt River.
  • Section two weaves through the dense bush of the Rimutaka Ranges and involves some more intermediate level terrain.
  • Section three follows an intermediate grade road through rich farmland.
  • The final section of the trail runs along the rugged South Coast of the North Island, and is graded intermediate to advanced.

Find out more about riding the trail.

5. A window into the past

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As you cycle through the bush-clad Rimutaka Ranges you’ll be taken on a journey through time. Get a glimpse into the past as you cycle along the old railway route, established in 1878 to connect Wellington with the rich farmland beyond.

Full of photo opportunities, the trail plunges through restored rail tunnels and crosses picturesque bridges spanning the Pakuratahi River. The Trail also boasts the oldest Howe truss bridge in New Zealand. 

6. Wind down in wine country

Wairarapa

Complete the trail in sunny Wairarapa, one of New Zealand’s premium wine-growing regions, and part of the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail. For a change of scene (and pace!), cycle around one of the many vineyards, and reward your cycling efforts with wine tastings and vineyard lunches.

Get the boutique wine experience in Martinborough, home to some 20 wineries, including Ata Rangi, Margrain Vineyard and Palliser Estate Wines. Make sure you sample the region's specialty, plummy pinot noir, while you're here. For vineyard cycling tours, check out March Hare Cycling and Green Jersey Cycle Tours.

7. Soak up the Wairarapa charm

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Take your time and explore the characterful towns of Wairarapa. Home to boutique shops and charming colonial buildings, the region is the perfect place to spend a few days after an adventurous cycling trip. Stop by Schoc Chocolates in Greytown for delightful handmade chocolates, C’est Cheese in Featherston for artisan cheeses, and try New Zealand's best pie at Clareville Bakery

8. Festival fix

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Wairarapa also hosts a number of annual festivals which showcase the region’s locally-grown produce. If you’re here in March, experience the best of Wairarapa’s wine and food at the Harvest Festival, or in November head along to Toast Martinborough, New Zealand’s premier wine, food and music festival. 

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