Rimutaka Cycle Trail and Beyond

Three great days of biking

By Sandra Smith

Six of the group at the start of the Rimutaka Rail Trail. Sandra is on the far left.

Recently a group of nine of us from our Joggers and Walkers club cycled the Rimutaka Cycle trail.

Part of the trail travels over what once was the first rail connection between Wellington and the Wairarapa. As the current railway now runs through a tunnel beneath the hills the old line has become a walk/cycle way.

We began our trip at the beginning of the Rimutaka incline and from here into the Wairarapa, down to the south coast and finished at Eastbourne on the Wellington harbour.

Over the Rimutaka Incline and on to Lake Ferry

The remains of  Fell engines which once dragged trains up from Cross Creek

The first day we cycled over the hill, past the rusty ancient remains of Fell engines at the summit, through the 3 tunnels, past “Siberia” where the wind blows so hard that in 1880 it once blew a train off the tracks. It was not much less of a gale for us!

Then it was down to Cross Creek at the bottom and then south along the western side of Lake Wairarapa.

At the end of the lake we headed east and over to Lake Ferry Hotel on the south coast.

Built in 1851 the hotel was primarily a base for a ferry service. Now, the old buildings have been replaced and the hotel which looks out over Palliser Bay, provides food, shelter and refreshments to travellers.

The Pinnacles and Cape Palliser

The next day we took a side trip out to Palliser light house stopping at the Putangirua Pinnacles on the way.

There is a one and a half hour circuit walk to a view point at the top of this amazing rock formation where some scenes for the film “The Lord of the Rings” were filmed.

The picturesque fishing village of Ngawi

Further around the coast is the unique fishing village of Ngawi, Each fishing boat has its own bulldozer to launch it and to bring it back up the beach. There is quite a fleet of boats!

On to gravel road for the last 7kms to the lighthouse and we were all grateful for the strong northwesterly wind behind us.

Those who still had the energy, climbed the 253 steps up to the lighthouse for the fantastic view.

Our support vehicle took us back to the hotel that afternoon as none of us felt like battling back into the northerly gale!

Every surface imaginable on the ride to Eastbourne

On the morning of the third day our support vehicle dropped us off at about 5 km from Ocean Beach to start the last leg. The sealed road ends at Ocean Beach and now we are onto “off road”.

A calm, fine day for the final ride to Eastbourne

Gravel, rocks, sand – you name it and it was there. Pot holes, creeks and mud! It all made for an adventurous ride – challenging but so much fun!

At Orongoronga the cycle trail officially ends but we rode up the Wainuiomata road to a car park where there is a track leading over the hill and drops down onto the Pencarrow Coast road.

Here we had a smooth gravel road and a perfect ride around to Eastbourne on the first windless day for months (it seems).

We were met by our support vehicle here and after 5 hours cycling we thought the cold ice creams were well deserved!


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