At 18kms long, the Remutaka Rail Trail Incline Section isn’t a long trail ride. Add great views, a nice wide and well-groomed grade 2 surface and it’s no surprise that it this is such a popular section of the greater Remutaka Cycle Trail.
This is one of our favourite rides in the Wellington / Wairarapa region, and probably one of Teresa’s favourites overall.
The Remutaka Incline Trail can be ridden in either direction but by far the most popular direction is from Kaitoke and Cross Creek as it has a much gentler gradient.
To get to Kaitoke, travel north 9kms from Upper Hutt or 20kms South from Featherston on SH2 and look for the NZ Cycle Way signage to indicate the turnoff point at Pakuratahi Forest, you shouldn’t miss it. Follow the signage about 1km, past the kart track and you will find the main carpark.
Last time I rode the trail, we parked up at Maymorn train station, caught the train to Featherston and rode from Featherston to Cross Creek to Kaitoke and then back down to Maymorn. This time on advice of family we rode Kaitoke to Cross Creek and caught a shuttle back to Kaitoke, a much easier ride.
The shuttle service we used was excellent, I would highly recommend Wildfinders.
Greater Wellington has a good map here of the trail and features.
From the Kaitoke carpark, you enter the trail and are greeted by the Kaitoke station shelter with Pakuratahi Forest info, opposite the shelter are toilet facilities. From here you begin your gentle climb alongside the Pakuratahi River as you ascend towards the summit.
The ride up to the summit and back is an easy day out for a family with young kids or less able riders. And on the day we rode the trail, it was very busy, but it wasn’t a problem on a nice wide trail.
This is one of those trails that has a fascinating history. Along the trail are signposts talking about features of the trail and history of the railway and the “Fell Engines” that made their way up and down the hill. Definitely stop and check out the signboards.
As you head up to the summit you pass through Pakuratahi Tunnel, passable without a torch but you might struggle with sunglasses on. See if you can find the 2.7 meter wide, 116-meter deep Remutaka Tunnel ventilation shaft on the far side.
Then you will come across the Truss Bridge, one of the first built in New Zealand that still stands.
After a few hundred meters you come across Ladle Bend Bridge that offers a great view over Pakuratahi River and the valley before you make your way up to the summit.
The summit has a campground, picnic tables, a station, toilets and some interesting old rusty train engines. It’s a great place to stop for lunch and take a look around.
From the summit you will come to the summit tunnel, at 585 meters long you definitely need a torch for this one.
A little further on you will pass through Siberia Tunnel (108 meters) and the impressive new 90-meter Siberia Curve swing bridge that didn’t exist the last time I rode the trail. A great new addition.
From here you will descend to Price’s tunnel and down to the Cross Creek settlement before rolling down to the carpark. The trail is a little narrower on this section but still no harder than a grade 3.