The Rimutaka Rail Trail – new heritage train proposal

The Rimutaka Incline Railway Heritage Trust wants to reconstruct the Rimutaka Railway on part of its old route, which is now a cycling and walking track between Maymorn and the summit.

As part of the proposal the group plans to construct a new cycling and walking track. I don’t know enough about suitable gradients or any other technical features – or in fact the trail itself – to comment on this proposal, but I’d love to hear from anyone who does.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing, or something in-between?

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6 thoughts on “The Rimutaka Rail Trail – new heritage train proposal

  1. Alastair

    Thanks for raising that, Lisa. CAW’s submission on the initial proposal is at

    In general we felt that it would be difficult to keep the current cycling experience if the proposed railway was allowed to go ahead in this forest park.

    If you value the experience of riding the Rimutaka rail trail, read the material linked from
    and make a submission to GWRC by 31 January.


    1. Thanks, Alastair. It’s clear to me from CAW’s analysis that the trail would be a more difficult, less pleasant ride if the railway went ahead.

      I’ve submitted my opposition on the ground that it doesn’t make sense to reduce the scope of the trail’s appeal to the current broad demographic, given the economic opportunities of cycle trails and NZ’s current obesity rate of 63% (as recently reported).


  2. Nigel

    Sorry everyone, but I don’t think this is about gradients. It is a unique situation and to fully understand it, one needs to read:
    1. The proposal by the RIR Heritage Trust;
    2. Optionally, the Parks Network Plan of the GWRC (yawn, yes there is a section on the Pukaratahi Park);
    3, The CAN response;
    4. Comments on and especially the AKT link at Phew, some steamed up people in there!
    5. Now go and ride it! It’s just great.

    IMHO what these people are saying is: We want to run a commercial operation within the Pukaratahi Regional Park. Give us exclusive acccess to all the existing railway formations/bridges/tunnels and we will cut you a new walkway/cycleway that gives you good views of the railway in operation. Oh, and we are going to put in a few extra buildings (fake Kaitoke Station) and encourage the “tag-along” commercial operators too. And lastly we don’t have much money so it could be the XYZ Corporation Rimutaka Railway…

    A railway line and its easement is the same as a motorway to cyclists and pedestrains – entry is forbidden. You have to pay to go on the “tourist train” to experience the tunnels in a “safe and controlled environment”. So we would be locking up the only defining features of this heritage rail trail for one or two trains per day, carrying how many paying people! Perhaps the RIR Heritage Trust should build their railway on land they buy/lease themselves, not invade a Regional Park and start asking for ratepayer bailouts (Zealandia anyone?).

    This submission has been cleverly timed to coincide with an election and the summer holiday period as smokescreens. Once GWRC approval is gained the only way to challenge it will be to show “the approval process” wasn’t followed. This is expensive and GWRC don’t like such publicity, so it would be hard nut to crack. I am concerned too that there is no visible lobby group for “plain ordinary” walkers.

    Gradients? I think not. More a right versus left political argument.

    The GWRC could like the idea of getting a “free” brand new purpose built trail to showcase their commitment to the National Cycleway Network, even if they already have a superb existing one.

    So make a submission. I think I know how mine will go!


  3. Simon Kennett

    The latest edition of ‘Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides’ covers about 300 rides, nationwide. Only about 20 of them are given the maximum four-star rating, and the Rimutaka Rail Trail is one of them. It’s a treasure, alright – just as it is.


    1. Tom Halliburton

      Just done a trip over the Rimutaka Rail Trail from Upper Hutt to Martinborough, on a tandem with road tyres and 4 panniers. No problem, thanks to the recent improvements made by DOC at the Cross Creek end. The trail was really busy on Saturday including a bus load of walkers doing a through trip. Lots of kids, walkers of all ages, all sorts of cyclists including some “less active” looking ones and a few tired dogs. Signs of recent maintenance by GWRC who do a great job in this respect. Absolutely gorgeous day out and this is a facility we should be fighting to protect.

      Problems with the railway development include tortuous alignment, the need for ups and downs rather than a constant grade, difficulty in maintenance of a trail that can not take vehicles, loss of wilderness values, and really, there just is not space for an additional path, especially between Munitions Bend and Ladle Creek.


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