Located between Wellington and the Wairapa valley, the Rimutaka Trail crosses a region that is well-known by the locals but not by tourists. Cycling on this trail is an immersive, off the beaten track experience but also one that is borrowed from the history of the first settlers. The trail follows an old railway which once contributed to the success of the region.
The most spectacular part, from Maymorn to Cross Creek, starts with quite a steep incline in the forest. The trail leads you through Gulley tunnel, the first in a series of 5 tunnels that you cycle through by torchlight, which makes the experience quite atmospheric! After the second tunnel (Maymorn), the trail continues for a few more kilometres on a narrow paved road which is not very frequented by tourists, before entering the bush and getting to the old railway.
Beautiful views can be seen on the Pakuratahi Valley to the left, before coming to a pine tree plantation. The vestiges of old buildings linked to the railway line are reminders of region’s industrial past. Next starts the long descent towards the Wairarapa valley. Three tunnels, one after the other including the longest of the course : the 576 metre-long Summit Tunnel. You cross a stream in a narrow creek where a train once fell during the time of the railways. The final long and constant 5km descent, which is not too steep, is really exhilarating. The surrounding bush-covered hills add to the atmosphere. The track ends with a tortuous and narrow section in the forest, which will delight amateurs of more technical sections. In the end you arrive in a clearing, and find yourselves in the Wairarapa valley where this part of the trail ends.
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