“She loves Wellington. She was born there. She grew up out in the Hutt Valley,” says one of the Songs from the Front Lawn.
Upper Hutt is part of the far flungeries of Wellington, suburban in character, settled in a quest to find some flat land.
The Hutt River rises in the Tararua Ranges and flows south west down the path of the active fault line towards Wellington Harbour. It is a short, fast flowing, stony river and for much of its length it is followed by the Hutt River Trail.
The Hutt River Trail
As you can see the trail is flat, and mostly gravel. It’s an easy pleasant ride. It’s 30km from Upper Hutt to Petone. It’s mostly set in parklands and on a sunny day lots of people are spread out swimming and having barbeques. It attracts a number of illegal motorbikes and I’ve seen a very young child being taught to drive, but even that didn’t get in anyone’s way. There isn’t a sense to restrict the roads to the roadways where they exist, and the cars drive all over the parks where they can,
which means to restrict some of the motorised movements these horrible gates have been put in place, which are a pain in the backside to slow down for, and get in the way of using the trail as a commuter cycleway (as does the lack of any lighting)
The trail follows the river rather than State Highway Two, but sometimes the river and the highway are close and so the trail follows the highway, but the noise doesn’t seem too intrusive.
The following picture is the bend of the river between Totara Park and Maoribank on a warm sunny day. In fact from Petone to here the trail is quite stratightforward to follow.
At Harcourt Park is the new footbridge and the route of the trail on the west side of the river to Bridge Road is a bit harder to ride and more suited to following on foot. There is one concrete obstacle to lift your bike over. I suggest instead heading through Harcourt Park and riding up the Akatarawa Road to the Birchville Bridge. It starts OK, but after this section it goes steeply up through some tight curves in a small forest.
It again is probably better ride Gemstone Drive out to the SH2, rather than following along the marked trail
because the trail starts okay on the mown top of the levee bank, but it soon turns into some tight single track through a forest full of tree roots and has a set of steps.
and when it gets to the SH2, it follows a narrow bit of single track. Still it is probably better than the SH2 here as the fast traffic cuts the inner line of the curve and you’ll end up cursing them with your vilest tongue.
To ride to the start of the Rimutaka Rail Trail from the Hutt River Trail there are a few alternatives. The SH2 is steep up hill and the traffic is busy, then one alternative is riding to the Kaitoke Regional Park (the section along the SH2 past the golf course is flat and the verges are mainly OK, except on the bridge) and riding the Ridge Track.
But the Ridge Track isn’t that easy to ride, and is a bit rough and steep in places.
So my suggested way to get there is to ride up the SH2 as far as the golf club and go across the road at the Plateau, Te Marua Dairy on the road that goes to Tunnel Gully (and you can ride up to Tunnel Gully that way) but go on the road to Maymorn Station and then ride in through the Maymorn Tunnel, and from the Tunnel Gully picnic ground head back down the road until the gate that follows the old railway line is found and then ride through the Pakuratahi Forest (with some steep sections) and drop onto the rail trail near its start. (All this is the longest green lines on the above map)
Another cool ride from Tunnel Gully is the steep climb up to Mt Climie. It takes at least an hour (for me longer) to put in the granny gear hard yards up to the summit on the wide gravel road through some nice forests.
At the summit the views are extensive. You can see Lake Wairarapa and Mana Island from the same spot. And the ride back down is however fast that you dare and a lot quicker than you rode up.