The Remutaka Ranges Plus Bikepacking Route
The Remutaka Ranges Plus route, featured in the Kennet Brothers Bikepacking book, offers an exhilarating and unforgettable bikepacking adventure spanning approximately 177 km. With a duration of 2-3 days, this route is perfect for those seeking an immersive and challenging experience. Starting from Wellington/Hutt Valley, the journey incorporates various sections of the renowned Remutaka Cycle Trail while adding extra elements to enhance both interest and difficulty.
Commencing in Wellington, the route takes riders on a captivating journey around the picturesque harbor, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. The initial leg leads to Seaview, followed by a thrilling climb up Wainuiomata Hill, rewarding cyclists with breathtaking vistas overlooking Wellington CBD. Descending towards the coast, riders will pass notable landmarks such as Turakirae Head and the serene Lake Wairarapa. An old rail trail adds a touch of nostalgia before guiding adventurers through the beautiful Hutt Valley, ultimately leading back to the starting point.
From the Hutt River mouth, the trail continues for approximately 36 km, meandering through a combination of cycle paths, streets, and roads. Crossing the Hutt River, cyclists will follow scenic paths along the river mouth and alongside the tranquil Waiwhetu Stream. The route progresses, presenting riders with Bell Road, which serves as a gateway to the challenging ascent up Wainuiomata Hill. The panoramic views from the top make the effort worthwhile. Navigating through Homedale and Coast Road, cyclists will eventually reach the enchanting Orongorongo River, where a gravel cycle path and 4WD track await. This segment leads to the Corner Creek camping area, providing a serene and picturesque spot for rest and rejuvenation.
For those seeking additional exploration, an option presents itself at this stage. Adventurers can choose to continue riding along the coast on Marine Drive, which eventually transforms into a shingle path leading to the captivating Baring Head Lighthouse. Although this detour offers unique coastal scenery, it should be noted that opting for this route sacrifices some of the climbing challenges and the opportunity to admire panoramic views of Wellington.
While the ride around Turakirae Head showcases mesmerizing beauty, riders should be prepared for some sections of the trail with damage and soft grit. Navigating through Mukamuka stream to Cross Creek might require cyclists to dismount and push their bikes, ensuring they tread carefully.
The subsequent segment of the route spans approximately 37 km, encompassing a combination of gravel and sealed roads. Cycling from Corner Creek to Cross Creek Road End, riders will be treated to awe-inspiring views of Palliser Bay. Following Western Lake Road, which winds along the enchanting Lake Wairarapa, cyclists will be captivated by the tranquility of the surroundings. Upon reaching Cross Creek Road, they will encounter a toilet and shelter, marking the commencement of the famous Remutaka Incline Trail.
During my personal journey, I decided to continue riding to Featherston for my overnight accommodation. Although there are a few establishments along Western Lake Road, they were closed due to the seasonal nature of their operations. Arriving in Featherston ahead of schedule, I took advantage of the opportunity to explore the first stage of the Five Towns Trail network, extending my ride to Greytown and Carterton before returning. Greytown, with its charming atmosphere, abundant cafes, eateries, and shopping options, proved to be a delightful destination.
The final stretch covers 28 km and features an engaging combination of single track, rail trail, and sealed roads. Departing from Cross Creek Road, cyclists will encounter Cross Creek Station and embark on a gradual climb along the rail trail, traversing tunnels that add an air of mystique to the journey. The ensuing long and thrilling downhill section, adorned with bridges, provides an exhilarating descent. While the climb over the Rail Trail is relatively brief, the descent seems to stretch endlessly, offering riders ample time to savor the breathtaking scenery. I must admit that I experienced this section of the trail in the dark, which resulted in missing out on some of the scenic wonders, particularly the majestic Siberia Gulley bridge.
The return journey spans approximately 44 km and combines gravel and sealed cycle trails, with a brief section along SH2. By diligently following the trail's signage, riders will traverse enchanting forests and meander alongside the serene Hutt River. Eventually, they will arrive back in Wellington, greeted by a zig-zag ascent and a brief stretch beside the highway.
Undoubtedly, completing the Remutaka Ranges Plus route provides a rewarding and awe-inspiring biking experience. Its diverse landscapes, challenging sections, and stunning natural scenery combine to create an adventure that is as fulfilling as it is memorable. Whether accomplished as a long day ride for the physically fit or savored over 2-3 days to fully immerse oneself in the surroundings, this route promises an unforgettable journey for bikepacking enthusiasts of all levels.