The Remutaka Rail Trail is an easy mountain bike ride or hike along a feat of railway engineering.
From the trailhead on Incline Road, the trail offers a pleasant 1:30 grade that climbs adjacent to Pakuratahi River and through an old pine plantation and then regenerating native bush. The track turns south-east at the tunnel ventilation shaft building, with the 8.8km long Remutaka Rail Tunnel buried somewhere deep below.
Soon after, the trail crosses a tributary of the Pakuratahi River adjacent to a large forestry block and climbs to its high point, Summit Station at 348m. Here, there is an impressive collection of red rusty boilers, steam pipes and train cabs.
Beyond the summit, a very cool and dark 580m tunnel is cycled. A torch is necessary to navigate its full length.
Out the other side of the tunnel, the descent begins. It’s twice as steep as the climb but still gradual in mountain biking terms. The trail traverses high above Cross Creek, sidling around the ridge before heading due east.
Just after the second, short, Siberia tunnel, is a slip where the Siberia Gully Stream washed out a curved earth rail embankment in 1967. A 90m swingbridge has been built to bypass the mess and provides a bird’s-eye view of the old concrete rail structure and slip below.
A final short third tunnel – Prices – has been dug through the difficult country on steep terrain.
The bottom section of the trail soon meets the site of the old railway yards that were once part of the Cross Creek Station and settlement.
The Cross Creek single-track winds its way through tall mānuka and broadleaf on the true right of Cross Creek to the road end car park and railway station. It’s possible to carry on to Featherston before reversing the ride, or organise a shuttle.
- 17km one way
- Total Ascent
- Easy / Moderate
- 1-2hr (riding), 4.5hr (walking)
- From SH2, turn right at Kaitoke onto Incline Road