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Explore some unique railway history

Explore some unique railway history

What was once the usual route to travel between Upper Hutt and Featherston is now the Rimutaka Rail Trail.

Greater Wellington – The Regional Council is running a walking trip there to explore its unique railway history on 20 January 2003. The day includes a visit to the Fell Museum at Featherston which houses the fell engine which once plied the Rimutaka Incline.

“The rail trail is a very special part of the history of the Wellington Region and one of the few old railway lines in New Zealand to be developed into a recreation area,” says Greater Wellington parks and forests manager Murray Waititi.

The trip to the rail trail is part of the Regional Outdoors summer programme of events to regional parks and forests. Bus transport will be provided from Upper Hutt railway station to the start of the rail trail at Kaitoke. Participants walk to the Summit for lunch and down to Cross Creek in the Wairarapa. People are taken by bus to visit the Fell Museum at Featherston and returned to Upper Hutt.

The walk itself is long (17 km) but an easy, gradual slope. The trail runs through planted and indigenous forest, over restored bridges and through tunnels (a torch is handy!).

“The former railway yard and settlement at the summit has begun to be landscaped and planted, after logging of exotic forests. Remnants of buildings and old locomotive parts were uncovered – a memorial to the once thriving community that lived and worked there,” Murray says.

The Rimutaka Rail Trail walk can take a maximum of 90 people – please book by phoning 526 4133 during office hours (closed 24 December – 3 January). The trip costs $15 for adults, $8 for children under 14 (and includes entry to the Fell Museum). Participants should bring warm clothes, a sun hat, drinks, a picnic lunch and a torch.

The Rimutaka Rail Trail is one of over 30 events in regional parks and forests over the summer and most events are free (some have a minimal cost to cover transport).

Regional Council Landcare committee chairman Chris Laidlaw says Regional Outdoors is a way of encouraging people to visit the region’s parks and to learn more about their environments and cultural history. Participants in previous years have said, “Brilliant, a great day, well organised. Congratulations.”; “Excellent, will recommend this walk to anyone!”; and “Tremendous value for money. Will recommend thoroughly to others.”

A full listing of events is available in Elements, at visitor information centres and under events on www.gw.govt.nz.

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