The Best Cycling Routes In Wellington, New Zealand

The Skyline Track
The Skyline Track | © TRAILSOURCE.COM/Flickr
Thalita Alves

Whether you’re a keen mountain biker or a leisurely cyclist, there are plenty of places to get active in Wellington. New Zealand’s capital city is renowned for housing a myriad of scenic trails that beginner and advanced riders alike can readily enjoy. Here are some of the best renowned to help you map out your route.

Rimutaka Cycle Trail

This has become a favourite with locals and visitors. In fact, the Lonely Planet dubbed the Rimutaka Trail as one of the hottest travel experiences of 2015. The entire route is 115 kilometres (71.5 miles) long, taking 2-3 days to complete. It passes through the Petone foreshore, the Wellington Harbour, and the Wairarapa South Coast. If you want to break it into manageable sections, these are the paths to follow:

Petone to Maymorn

This 35-kilometre (21.7-mile) stretch starts in the historic Petone settlement, just south of Hutt Valley. It’s an easy enough cycling route, running mostly along parkland and through various sealed and gravel paths on the Hutt River Trail.

Rimutaka Rail Trail

Maymorn to Cross Creek

This second part eases into the Rimutaka Ranges, taking you on a journey across various historic landscapes. It spans across 25 kilometres (15.5 miles) and includes a mixture of bush tracks and rail trails.

Cross Creek to Ocean Beach

From Cross Creek, you’ll begin heading towards the Wairarapa region. There are two ways to approach this route: turning north-east on Western Lake Road and finishing the ride at Featherston, or heading south-west towards Lake Wairarapa and ending the course at Ocean Beach. The former is 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) in length, while the latter totals to 36 kilometres (22.4 miles).

Wairarapa from Rimutaka summit

Mountain biking in the city

If you’re eager to try a bit of mountain biking while in Wellington, you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a number of cycle routes to choose from. Follow this interactive map from the city council to get a feel for what to expect. Some of the best tracks in the vicinity include:

Makara Peak

This is by far the most popular choice for Wellington-based mountain bikers. Makara Peak is 15 minutes away from the city, and offers a diverse selection of trails. The area boasts 30 kilometres (18.6 miles) of tracks – some with relatively flat surfaces, and others that quite steep and narrow.

Makara Peak

Waterfront Cycleway

For a scenic city bike ride with a bit of a kick, head over to the waterfront. Start at Queen’s Wharf downtown, then follow the cycle route along Frank Kitts Park, Waitangi Park, Oriental Parade and Evans Bay Parade. There will be a point by Oriental Parade where the path goes onto the road, stopping at Balaena Bay and resuming at Greta Point Wharf. The route finishes at Miramar, totalling 6.5 kilometres (4 miles) in distance.

Skyline Track from Johnsonville

The entire journey is 12 kilometres (7.5 miles) long, but it can be broken down into stages. It starts on Carmichael Street in Johnsonville, then goes across to Makara Saddle – passing through places like Mt Kaukau, the Crow’s Nest, and Kilmister Block. On a nice day, this path will bring you stunning views of the Kaikoura Ranges, Malborough Sounds, and the Wellington Harbour.

The Skyline Track

Cycling the Hutt Valley

Along with being part of the Rimutaka Trail, the Hutt Valley itself boasts 500 kilometres (311 miles) of cycling tracks and trails. The area is located 15 minutes away from Wellington city, and has a mixture of historic sites, forested tracks and farmland for those wanting their biking fix. Here are the main routes to venture into:

Hutt River Valley

This trail starts from Hikoikoi Reserve, Petone, and ends in Birchville, Upper Hutt. All up, the 29-kilometre (18- mile) journey covers the entire length of the valley’s eastern riverbank. Tracks are predominantly flat, making it ideal for all fitness levels.

Pencarrow Coast Road

A very simple route, with a pleasant 16 kilometres (just under 10 miles) return journey. Start from Eastbourne and cruise along to the Pencarrow Lighthouse – famous for being the first permanent lighthouse installed in New Zealand. While you’re at it, make sure to keep your eye out for the coastal wildlife as the area is renowned for housing penguins and other sea creatures.

Pencarrow Coast

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