Some context to start:
The Rimutaka Cycle Trail was initially conceived as a loop track, starting on the shores of Wellington Harbour, passing up through the Hutt Valley alongside the Hutt River, through the Pakuratahi Forest via the Rimutaka Incline, down to Ocean Beach in the Wairarapa, then around the southern coast of the Wairarapa and Wellington and back into Wellington Harbour. Some legal issues mean that the trail is only currently advertised as an "A to B" ride starting in Petone and finishing at Orongorongo, however we highly recommend that you aim to make a loop of the trail, starting and finishing in Days Bay, and this option is well-known to many locals, which can cause confusion when you look at various online resources! The way we usually structure our trips, is that we start in Days Bay with this loop trail in mind, then leave the final day flexible, with options to either get picked up from Orongorongo, or continue cycling around the coast to Days Bay depending on your energy levels and the weather forecasts.
Frequently asked questions
Scroll through to find answers below
- Where does The Rimutaka Cycle Trail actually start?
- How long will it take to ride the whole Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
- How long is The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
- Is there anywhere I can get a decent map of The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
- What's the difference between The Rimutaka Cycle Trail and The Rimutaka Incline Trail?
- What's the best time of year to cycle The Rimutaka Cycle Trail
Bikes and Equipment
- What kind of bike do I need to ride The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
- What gear or equipment should I take with me on the coastal section of The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
- What's the deal with food on The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
- Should I use an eBike to ride The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
- What's cellphone reception like on The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
- Do you have any Rimutaka Cycle Trail accommodation providers you recommend?
- Can you camp on The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
The Wild Coast (coastal section between Ocean Beach and Orongorongo)
- Just how rough or tough is the coastal section of The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
- I'm not too keen to take on the Wild Coast section of The Rimutaka Cycle Trail, is there an alternative route?
Where does The Rimutaka Cycle Trail actually start?
If you're riding the official trail only (there is also an option to extend it into a loop), then the official start point is in Petone, next to the wharf. You can get to Petone by ferry, train, or bus from Wellington, or if you're booking in for one of our packages, we'll pick you up from your doorstep in our shuttle and take you out there.
If you're riding the loop trail, you can in theory start anywhere you like along the trail, however most of our clients start in Days Bay due to its easy access from Wellington via ferry or bus, or its free parking if bringing your own car to the start point. We can also shuttle you out to Days Bay if booking in for one of our package deals.
How long will it take me to ride the whole Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
Remember as you're planning this, to cater to the slowest or least capable of your group. It's no fun for anyone (and can be dangerous) if some of your team are arriving at the accommodation each night half dead and dreading the next day! Relax, take your time, and you'll all enjoy the trail to its full extent.
1 day - if you're fit enough and crazy enough to do this trail in one day, we suspect you're too busy climbing Everest or similar to read this! The fastest riders do the whole loop in around 7 painful hours, travelling light on cyclocross bikes and wearing only the streamliniest lycra, fuelled by glucose gloop from a sachet while staring at the rhythmic bouncing of the bum in front them. Sound like you?
2 days - if you're really fit and keen, you might wish to condense it into a 2 day trip, but we wouldn't recommend it for most riders. If you're unsure, we'd recommend either stretching it out to a 3-day trip, or considering using an eBike to take the edge off. We can also start you off a bit further up the Hutt River Trail if you've only got two days but want to see the best bits of the trail.
3 days - this suits the vast majority of our clients. If you're of average fitness (go for the odd bike ride at weekends but not entering Le Tour de France anytime soon, comfortable with activities like tramping the great walks etc), we recommend you take at least 3 days to ride either the official trail or the loop trail. You'll cycle no more than 55km on any day doing it this way, and for most riders it seems to be a good balance between getting a decent ride in each day while still having energy to enjoy the evening.
4 days and over - some of our clients like to take a bit more time to check out the views and info along the way, or divide the last section around the coast into two more manageable days (if riding the loop track). It's also possible to add a night or two in Martinborough to your itinerary, sampling the region's wine and food scene. If you're not in a rush, then why not?
How long is The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
If riding the official trail, 115km. If adding the extensions to create the loop, then add 4km to the first section, and 21km to the last section, giving 140km all up.
Is there anywhere I can get a decent map of The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
Yes! Just send us an email at email@example.com, and we'll send you a printable pdf of our maps including detailed trail notes. You could also use the Trailforks or Great Rides apps, for a soft-copy option on your smartphone.
What's the difference between The Rimutaka Cycle Trail and The Rimutaka Incline Trail?
The Rimutaka Cycle Trail, is the whole 115km long trail network that runs from Petone to Orongorongo (or Days Bay to Days Bay if making a loop), of which the Rimutaka Incline Trail (sometimes referred to as The Rimutaka Rail Trail) forms a 25km section, starting at Maymorn and finishing at Cross Creek.
What's the best time of year to cycle The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
It can be completed all year round - the Rimutaka Summit will sometimes get a very light dusting of snow, but there's no reason the trail can't be completed mid-Winter. There's pros and cons for every season - Summer gives you the best chance of hot weather (but sometimes uncomfortably so and it can get quite windy), Autumn and Spring are quite variable, while Winter is obviously colder but can be calmer too in terms of the wind (and you can get some amazing views out over the Cook Strait to the Kaikoura Ranges on a clear Winter's day).
Bikes and Equipment
What kind of bike do I need to ride The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
The trail is one of the most varied cycle trails in the country in terms of terrain - everything from concrete paths to occasional soft sand and shingle. You can make it around the trail on just about any good quality and well-maintained bike, but for best performance and comfort across everything the trail has to offer, we recommend using a mountain or hybrid style bike with front suspension and at least 1.75" wide tyres. We find our comfort mountain bikes (take a good quality mountain bike, then make it comfortable with gel seats and adjustable geometry) the perfect fit for most riders.
What gear or equipment should I take with me on the coastal section of The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
You're very unlikely to have any issues out on the coastal trails, but access is difficult (or impossible) at times for vehicles, and cellphone reception is limited, so it pays to be prepared! With this in mind, make sure you have a first aid kit and emergency blanket, some warm clothes for when you stop (or in case someone gets injured and you have to wait for assistance), a second form of emergency communication (we use Spot trackers for our clients, but an EPIRB or similar would also be handy), and enough food and water for the group.
What's the deal with food on The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
This one's important - there's literally zero options to buy food on the trail after you leave Upper Hutt, so make sure you've got it covered! There's a few different options:
- Take all of your food with you in pannier bags, and self-cater (heaviest option but usually the cheapest!)
- If we're doing bag transfers for you, you can also include a chilly bin or similar full of food (we're happy to do this, and to put whatever you like into the fridge / freezer when we drop your bags off) for no extra charge.
- Get us to organise food for you! We work with the accommodation providers and/or local cafes, to provide great food for your entire journey. Some heating or assembling may be required, cost is $60 per person per day.
Should I use an eBike to ride The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
Sure! If you're feeling a bit uncertain as to whether or not you can comfortably ride the same distance as others in your group, or you just want a more relaxed experience, eBikes are a great way to go. Just make sure that you're able to access a power point each night to recharge your batteries (this is easy at all the accommodation providers, but not so much at camp sites!). We've got a bunch of great eBikes in the hire fleet, and would be happy to help.
What's cellphone reception like on The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
Variable - most providers get full coverage on the Hutt River Trail, and around 75% coverage on The Rimutaka Incline Trail, but from that point onwards all providers have quite a few blind spots, especially around the coast (Spark is by far the best around that area). We therefore recommend that you take a secondary form of communication with you - a Spot Tracker or EPIRB for example.
Do you have any Rimutaka Cycle Trail accommodation providers you recommend?
We sure do! It can be pretty difficult to figure out where to stay so that your trip is appropriately and conveniently staged, so just let us know what you're looking for and we can help out. We'll also have a map detailing all of the accommodation locations posted shortly.
Can you camp on The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
Yes. There's a Department of Conservation campground about 2km off the trail up at Kaitoke (just before you go over the Rimutaka Incline), and another (but much more basic) campground at Corner Creek just past Ocean Beach.
The Wild Coast (coastal section between Ocean Beach and Orongorongo)
Just how rough or tough is the coastal section of The Rimutaka Cycle Trail?
It's hard to say. On it's best days (with little or no sand on the track, and after maintenance crews have gone through), the trail will be quite smooth and clean and you can breeze through in under an hour. On it's roughest days (after storms or earthquakes, or just before a maintenance crew), you can experience deep sand drifts, and shingle fans where the track gets quite rocky and bumpy, and it can take some people 5-6 hours to get through in those conditions. We find the best way to think about it, is as an 18km combination trail of mostly cycling with up to 3km of walking. Don't be put off by that though - it's a stunning trail, and as long as you go into it with the right mindset is well worth the effort!
I'm not too keen to take on the Wild Coast section of The Rimutaka Cycle Trail, is there an alternative route?
There's no other way to get between Ocean Beach and Orongorongo, but there is a really great coastal trail between Orongorongo and Days Bay, that can be added to the start of your journey instead. This way, you get the full experience of riding along the coast as part of your journey, but on a much smoother and easier trail. We can also access this trail by road at just about any point, so it's much easier to provide shuttle support if needed.