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Maymorn to Cross Creek

25km, 3-4 hours, Grade 2-3 (Easy to Intermediate)

Suitable for:  Regular cyclists with a good level of fitness.  It's recommended that children should be over 12 years of age.

Things to be aware of:  Take a torch for the tunnels.  There is little or no cell phone coverage from Tunnel Gully to Cross Creek.  Ensure you are carrying enough food as there are no shops on this part of the trail.

Ladle Bend Creek Bridge

Threaded through the Remutaka Ranges, the second section offers travels into New Zealand’s bush-clad past. Beginning with Tunnel Gully, riders travel on a metalled forestry road through the historic Maymorn Tunnel and lush green bush to Kaitoke. A short public road then connects with the beginning of the ‘rail trail’ section.

Riders plunge back into the bush, following the old railway route established in 1878.  The route follows the Pakuratahi River for much of its distance and crosses it using picturesque bridges. From Ladle Bend bridge the trail travels through plantation forestry to the Summit.

The trail then descends along the path of the historic Fell Locomotive Incline.

The gradient is typically 1 in 15, a modest descent by mountain bike, but a formidable challenge for a railway.

With three railway tunnels on the descent, including the 576m Summit Tunnel, some form of light is advisable.

Riders emerge from the ranges at Cross Creek, into the wide-open expanse of the Wairarapa Valley, the region’s agricultural breadbasket.

Points of interest

  • Mangaroa Tunnel - A 253m long tunnel, built between 1875 and 1877, as part of the original Wellington to Wairarapa rail link.
  • Pakuratahi Tunnel - built in 1876 and 73m long, this was the first concrete block structure in New Zealand.
  • Pakuratahi Truss Bridge - 1876; 28m long, this is a "Howe" truss bridge. It is the oldest truss bridge in New Zealand, and was rebuilt in 1910 after a fire. Greater Wellington Regional Council restored the bridge in 2001.
  • Ladle Bend Bridge - 1875; 70m long; this is New Zealand's second oldest simple beam (understrutted) bridge. It has stone abutments and a central pier. Greater Wellington Regional Council restored this bridge in 2002.
  • Summit Yards - this was the site of five cottages, a signal box, water tank, ashpit, turntable (1943) and old locomotive remnants (not from "Fell" engines). Since 2000 there has been significant landscaping and planting work carried out in this area.
  • Summit Tunnel - dating from 1877, this is 584m long, and was resurfaced together with the rest of the Rail Trail in 1999. The 1 in 15 gradient used for the Fell engines started part way through this tunnel.
  • Siberia Tunnel -1878, 108m long.
  • Siberia Gully - A large earth embankment on a sweeping 100m radius curve filled the gully from 1876 to 1967 when it collapsed in a massive washout. The concrete intake shaft installed to collect and divert the stream remains standing in the gully.
  • Price's Tunnel - 1875-76. 98m long, this has a 1 in 15 grade on an "S" curve.
  • Enjoy swimming and fishing in the nearby Pakuratahi River and picnic or camp in the pleasant surrounds of Ladle Bend and Summit.