Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay Back Roads

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    Explore the Wairarapa and Hawke’s Bay wine regions by bike

    Discover stunning parts of rural North Island New Zealand you never knew existed on this fully supported Wairarapa and Hawkes Bay Backroads cycling trip. Bike along purpose-built cycleways, quiet rural roads and easy unsealed trails with picturesque postcard views through wine country, farmland and forest. Starting in Wellington you’ll head over the Remutaka Ranges on an easy gradient trail, dropping down into our first wine region, Martinborough. After a detour through the Manawatu, you’ll enjoy easy riding on the Hawke’s Bay trails through vineyards and orchards, tackle Te Mata peak by bike or hitch a ride in the van, and explore Napier, known as the Art Deco Capital of the World. Staying at some unique, historic properties along the way, you’ll enjoy warm hospitality in some very special places, well away from the noise, distraction and chronic busyness of everyday.


    • Ride gently up the leafy Hutt Valley and over the forested Remutaka Ranges
    • Visit the historic Martinborough Hotel, in the heart of Pinot Noir wine country
    • Head to Masterton on a pleasant touring route, enjoying stunning Wairarapa views of vineyards and farmland
    • Meet rare, New Zealand wildlife at the Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre
    • Head down a twisting, turning road in a corner of Hawkes Bay and find yourself at the doorstep of Wallingford Homestead, built in 1858, and now a delightful retreat
    • Enjoy the world-class Hawkes Bay wines in between pedalling on purpose-built bike paths
    • Explore the Art Deco delights of Napier
    • Choose your mode of transport up Te Mata Peak and soak up the views
    • Stay at the Makoura Lodge, situated on a remarkable slice of rural NZ’s landscape


    Day 1 Wellington to Martinborough – 58km Cycle
    Your adventure begins with a short tour briefing in central Wellington before a drive round the Harbour to the start of the Hutt Valley River Trail. After a bike set-up and safety briefing, it’s an easy morning ride on a wide, largely flat pathway winding along the Hutt River to the foothills of the Remutaka Ranges and the leafy suburb of Maymorn. Along the way you’ll pass by some of New Zealand’s most important cultural history, including Maori pa and early European settlements. After lunch we leave suburbia behind and follow an old railway route weaving through the Remutaka Ranges taking in more historical sights before climbing gently through native bush and regenerating forest to the summit. Then, it’s a downhill ride along the historic Fell Locomotive Incline with an exciting half-kilometre journey through Summit Tunnel (1877). Expansive views of Lake Wairarapa open up as you emerge at Cross Creek. A short drive to Martinborough, the heart of Wairarapa wine country, for a pre-dinner winery visit and overnight stay at our first historic property. (L, D)

    Day 2 Martinborough to Pahiatua – 50km Cycle
    Our morning’s ride on the Wairarapa Cycleway is a pleasant touring route with stunning Wairarapa views and plenty of rural charm. We’ll take a mid-morning breather in the small, vibrant community of Gladstone before finishing this delightful ride in the small town of Masterton. Mt Bruce National Wildlife Centre is our afternoon destination. It’s an unfenced sanctuary for our native wildlife and where endangered birds are bred for release across Aoteraroa. Manukura, the only white kiwi in captivity, lives here as do other endangered wildlife including takahe, kokako, kaka and longfin eel. The old hospital in Pahiatua, built in 1902, is our accommodation tonight. Long known as the ‘icon of a bygone era’ the building was brought to life again as Master’s Hall in 2008, refurbished to a good, basic standard with separate bedrooms but shared facilities. The grounds are a delight, beautifully landscaped and still boasting some of the original trees. (B, L, D)

    Day 3 Pahiatua to Wallingford – 77km Cycle
    The infamous Route 52 awaits us today, originally designated State Highway status but downgraded in 1960 when prosperity deserted New Zealand’s farming industry and farming districts became depopulated. Today this route through quintessential rural New Zealand offers quiet roads, country pubs and friendly locals. Using the van to shuttle us to the most scenic sections we’ll finish our ride at Te Paerahi Beach, the best old-school NZ beach ever! Vast and golden, sheltered by large headlands at both ends and offering walks down to the rocks or up to the river mouth, it’s a great spot to explore. From there it’s a short drive to our accommodation at Wallingford Homestead, built in 1858 and at the heart of a 34,000 acre sheep and cattle station in the 1900’s. Now a boutique stay, it offers peace and quiet in beautiful surroundings. (B, D)

    Day 4: Wallingford to Napier – 67km Cycle
    Wine country beckons today and we start with a lift in the van to the start of our morning’s ride. This continues yesterday’s rural theme on a back-country road leading to the base of Te Mata Peak. You can choose to get to the top by pedal power or motor but either way the 360 degree views from the top are stunning and a great spot for a picnic lunch. Then we get the downhill reward and continue from there out to the coast on our first taste of the wonderful Hawke’s Bay cycle trail network. Our ride finishes at Clearview winery for a well-earned tasting of their world-renowned wines, enjoyed looking out over the vineyards and the Pacific Ocean. A short drive takes us to our accommodation on Marine Parade in Napier and the late afternoon/evening is yours to enjoy with the option of a self-guided wander around this delightful Art Deco town. (B, L)

    Day 5 Napier to Manawatu – 51km Cycle
    A later start to our morning’s ride today to allow some extra time to enjoy Napier – perhaps a walk upto the Bluff Hill Lookout to kickstart your day (or feel free to have a lie in!!) We rejoin the local trail network for our ride, initially around the coast and then venturing inland through idyllic rural and riverside scenery, including plenty of vineyards and orchards. It’s time to leave the Hawke’s Bay and drive across heartland New Zealand to the Manawutu – a lengthy journey but worth the effort to enjoy an authentic Kiwi experience. Our hosts for the night are the McIntrye family, 5th generation farmers at Makoura Lodge, a venue of rustic charm providing exceptional country comfort. There’ll be time to enjoy the native gardens, perhaps head out on a tour of the 600 acre sheep and beef farm or enjoy one of the other many activities the family offer.(B, L, D)

    Day 6 Manawatu to Wellington – 55km Cycle
    Today we head off the beaten track (again!) on a scenic and often surprising journey through rural Manawatu, full of natural wonders, local history and country hospitality. We wind our way down into the beautiful Pohangina Valley, kept company by the Pohangina River (plenty of swimming spots!) and the slightly forbidding Ruahine Ranges. Onwards, the area is rich in native bush and we pass the historic Komako Church and the stunning ancient forest at Totara Reserve. The stunning scenery continues all the way to the quaint little countryside town of Ashhurst where our cycling adventure finally comes to an end. A final lunch to celebrate new friendships and our amazing journey before we return to Wellington. (B, L)


    • 5 breakfasts, 6 lunches, 4 dinners
    • 1 nights hotel accommodation with ensuite facilities on a twin share basis
    • 4 nights homestead accommodation
    • Entrance fee to Pukaha National Wildlife Centre
    • Farm tour at the Makoura Lodge
    • Wine tasting at 2 wineries
    • Professional qualified guide/driver
    • Private vehicle transport
    • Water and snacks while cycling
    • Access and concession fees paid to the Department of Conservation