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Rimutaka Rail Trail

Rimutaka Rail Trail

Updated 28 November 2017 3:27pm

Leaving Summit tunnel

Running from Kaitoke to Summit, the Rimutaka Rail Trail links with the DOC-managed Incline down to Cross Creek in the Wairarapa.  A gently graded 18 km walk or mountain bike ride, the Trail features restored railway bridges and historic tunnels (take a torch). Enjoy swimming and fishing in the nearby Pakuratahi River and picnic or camp in the pleasant surrounds of Ladle Bend and Summit.

Toilets are located at the Kaitoke and Cross Creek entrances, at Summit and at the historic Cross Creek town site.


Points of Interest 

  • Siberia tunnel -1878, 108m long
  • Horsehoe "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
  • Cross Creek Station - A registered Historic Site, this was once occupied by several cottages, a hall, school, library, locomotive depot and a turntable.
  • Following your trip you may like to visit Featherston's Fell Museum which houses the rebuilt H 199 - the only remaining Fell engine from the six that serviced the Rimutaka Incline for 77 years.
  • Munitions Bend bridge - Greater Wellington and the Silverstream Railway Trust installed a footbridge with rails and sleepers running alongside it in 2003
  • Pakuratahi Tunnel - built in 1876 and 73m long, this was the first concrete block structure in New Zealand
  • Rimutaka Tunnel ventilation shaft - 1955; 2.7m diameter and 116m deep
  • Pakuratahi 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 restored the bridge in 2001.
  • Ladle Bend Creek 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 restored this bridge in 2002.
  • Summit Yards - this was the site of 5 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.

How to get there 

Turn off SH2, 9km north of Upper Hutt. The carpark is 1km along a metal road. Or you can enter the Wairarapa end of the Rail Trail via Cross Creek Road (off Western Lake Road). Pedestrian and cycling access only beyond the carpark.

From the end of the Hutt River Trail at Te Marua you can continue on down the road past the Water Treatment plant and the Stuart MacCaskill Lakes to join onto a track that takes you to the start of the Rimutaka Rail Trail via an underpass under SH2. See the map to your right for more details.

From Maymorn Trailway Station you can follow the walking/cycling track that takes you through Tunnell Gully and you can join the Trail on Incline Road or further up the trail.

Getting back to your starting point
Valley Shuttles will transport groups of up to six people and their bikes from Kaitoke to Cross Creek or vice versa. Contact them via email or phone (04) 973-8150 or (027) 248 1745 for more information.

Bikes on Wairarapa trains
It is a 10km cycle from the Cross Creek carpark along flat roads to Featherston Station. Allow up to 45 minutes as there is often a headwind to overcome.

On weekdays the first three trains into Wellington and the last three out are the peak commuter services. Groups with bicycles should use the off-peak services if at all possible. Note that non-standard bikes such as tandems or bikes with trailers are more difficult to accommodate.

If you are travelling as a group, Tranz Metro can increase bicycle carrying capacity but you need to book in advance. Book with Tranz Metro by phoning 04 498 3103 and they will advise the fee (including any extra for bikes) dependant on the group size and needs and can advise the best times to travel. There is no additional fee for using the group booking service.

Walking and biking

Running 18km from Kaitoke to Cross Creek, the Rimutaka Rail Trail is a popular recreation route used by more than 30,000 walkers, runners and cyclists each year.

Greater Wellington manages the section from Kaitoke to Summit. Expect an easy gradient with a gravel surface.

For bike hire and accessories view your options here.

Walking times and distances:

Kaitoke gate - Summit               10km / 2.5 hours

Summit - Cross Creek                6km / 1.5 hours

Cross Creek - Carpark                2km / 30 mins

Cycling times

Kaitoke gate - Summit                 1 hour

Summit - Cross Creek                 Less than 30 minutes (dismount and walk your bike through "Siberia" gully)

Cross Creek - carpark                  15-30 minutes (narrow track - watch out for walkers)


Rimutaka Incline 

South of Summit on the Wairarapa side, the Rimutaka Rail Trail includes the famous "Incline" to Cross Creek, 10km from Featherston. This steeper (1 in 15 grade) section is managed by the Department of Conservation as part of the Rimutaka Forest Park.

Safety on the trail 

  • check the weather forecast before your trip (southerly weather conditions make the Rimutaka Rail Trail extremely cold)
  • these are multi-use tracks so cyclists need to beware of and give way to walkers on the track
  • walkers also need to be aware of cyclists on the track and all users should keep to the left
  • wear strong lace-up footwear and carry warm and waterproof clothing and enough food and drink for your trip
  • carry sun protection
  • plan your route and tell someone your intentions
  • take a torch for the tunnels