Rimutaka Rail Trail

Track category

Walking track
Mountain bike - Easy


3 hr walk or 1 hr bike ride one way, starting from Kaitoke


18 km one way (Kaitoke to Cross Creek carpark)


Walkers and a cyclist check out the Rimutaka Rail Trail interpretation. Photo: Jason Kerehi/Greater Wellington Regional Council.
Walkers and a cyclist check out the 
Rimutaka Rail Trail interpretation

A rail route established in 1878 between the Hutt Valley and Featherston carried passengers up the steep incline from the Rimutaka summit to Featherston until the opening of the Rimutaka rail tunnel in 1955. The innovative Fell mountain railway system pulled trains up the steep slope of the Rimutaka Incline.

DOC and the Wellington Regional Council now jointly manage the incline as the Rimutaka Rail Trail. DOC manages the Incline section from the Summit to Cross Creek carpark in the Rimutaka Forest Park, and Greater Wellington Regional Council manages the section from Kaitoke to the Summit in the Pakuratahi Forest.

Getting there

Turn off SH 2, 9 km north of Upper Hutt, the turn off is signposted to Pakuratahi Forest. The carpark is 1 km along a metal road.

You can also access the trail from Cross Creek in the Rimutaka Forest Park, about an hour and 15 minutes drive from Wellington across the Rimutaka Hill Road.  Turn onto Moore St, Featherston, continue into Western Lake Rd, and turn right onto Cross Creek Road.


Child/family friendly activities Child/family friendly activities
Dog walking Dog walking
Fishing Fishing
Historic sites Historic sites
Mountain biking and cycling Mountain biking and cycling

The rail trail is a gently graded 18 km walk or mountain bike ride. This makes it an ideal trip for families with children. The trail is also popular with dog walkers. 

Interpretation panels telling the colourful stories associated with the former rail line have been installed along the trail which also features restored railway bridges and historic tunnels (take a torch).

There are plenty of photo opportunities along the trail, and a viewing platform located between the Summit and Siberia Tunnels offers a panoramic view of the old Fell engine route coming up from Cross Creek to the Summit.

Enjoy swimming and fishing in the nearby Pakuratahi River and picnic or camp in the pleasant surrounds of Ladle Bend and Summit.

Places to stay

Greater Wellington Regional Council offers camping at Ladle Bend and the Summit along the Rimutaka Rail Trail. The camping area at Ladle Bend lies below the Rail Trail near the Pakuratahi River. Do not camp under the pine trees to the left of the Rail Trail (just before the bridge) as these trees were severely damaged in the 2004 storms. There is a pit toilet at Ladle Bend and flush toilets at the Summit.

You can find a basic campsite with a pit toilet at Cross Creek.

Plan and prepare

Light fires only in the fireplaces in the designated camping sites. In times of high risk, there is a total ban on all fires. You are welcome to bring your portable gas stove.

Please take your rubbish home and recycle where possible.

Related links

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Follow the Outdoor Safety Code:
1. Plan your trip
2. Tell someone
3. Be aware of the weather
4. Know your limits
5. Take sufficient supplies

Alerts for Wairarapa places


Pōneke / Wellington Visitor Centre
Phone:      +64 4 384 7770
Address:   18 Manners Street
Email:   wellingtonvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
Whakaoriori / Masterton Office
Phone:      +64 6 377 0700
Email:   masterton@doc.govt.nz
Full office details

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