Leader :Athol Berry

Who was there: Athol Berry .Erica Gilchrist, Marlene Hiestand, Janette Lloyd, Graeme McGowan, John and Colleen Patton, Morgan, David P, John Mclean, Peter Arnold, Ellen Wang, Brian Alexander, Jim Hawkins, Ian McLaren, Jan Wison, Bob and Greer Mawdsley

Total km travelled 325km

Day OneFeatherston to Carterton. 69km. Wednesday 28th

Trail. Shared Gravel road, bike path, shared sealed road

Author: Ian McLaren

First day of cycle trip. We delayed our start till 9am due to rain then got on our cycles using back roads, some sealed some gravel. Across the parched, flat terrain of light brown/ grey white paddocks we travelled as one group towards Greytown. As the rain got heavier at times it was strange to watch the farm paddock auto  sprinkler systems operating in many places. The last part of the ride into Greytown was along a dedicated bike path into  the outskirts of town. The long Main Street has well kept homes along the way,  we passed the early settlers museum and into the main shopping area which is also well maintained and loved. In the light rain we  enjoyed the warmth of the many coffee shops  near the plaza and explored the shops. Went to Blackwell &Sons which sold old fashioned Pashley Cycles, upmarket clothing and even had a gin tasting section. Others discovered a good book shop and more clothes shops.

Time to move on to Carterton , only another 10k or so this time following the main road out of town. Athol had warned us of the narrow bridge to start before turning off to cycle along a parallel quiet side road. At Carterton a local band rotunda provided a dryish place for lunch. The statue of James Carter explained the Quaker roots of the settlement and its links with the Carter Observatory in Wellington. With  light rain still falling we mostly used the main road to head back to Featherston but not before stopping off at the site of a large WW1 army encampment and had had been converted into a Japanese POW during the Second World War. Nothing remains of the buildings once here but a large grove of blossom trees adorns the site as a Japanese memorial to the PoW’s who lost their lives here during a riot with prison guards. The rain had stopped so we were able to partially dry out on the 5 k back to Featherston. That evening many took advantage of the local RSA and their huge meals on offer.


Day Two – Featherston to Cape Palliser – 82km one way (Green Jersey shuttle return)

Author: Jan Wilson

Setting off from Featherston’s Fareham House about 8am, the morning ride was full of large open plains and rolling country side. There was minimal traffic and little wind so it was a pleasant and easy 40km cycle to Pirinoa.

There, for me, the scrumie toasted cheese scones and piping hot coffee were irresistable from the iconic Land Girl Cafe. 

Refreshed, we were soon on the road again finding it rising after the Cape Palliser turn-off. 

On the ridge top we had stupendous views of the distant Cape before descending to the rugged coastline, steep cliffs abounding to the left of the road. This made for far from perfect farming country. 

We stopped at the first accommodating beachside spot for our picnic lunches. A half dozen typical NZ baches were our backdrop as we faced out to sea.

Sheep and cattle stations, one after the other, were a definite feature, as we hugged the coast from that point on. We rode past signs for the Pinnacles, and some 17km further on, reached Ngawi. There, we saw bulldozers, of all ages, lining the shore front. We stopped for a closer inspection and many of us took photos.

A little ways further on tarmac gave way to gravel and there was a ford to cross, adding variety. A seal colony was very evident not too far on from that, so we had another stop to admire them and their antics.

The red and white lighthouse at Cape Palliser was in view for the last 2-3km of our ride. It truely lived up to expectation. 

In our own time, we all climbed the 260+ stairs to view it up close. The 360 degree outlook was a highlight. (Pardon the pun!)

Some 50m from the base of the stairs we waited for the Green Jersey shuttle to pick us all up.

The bike trailer could not quite fit all 18 bikes, hence two traveled with us in the bus.

The 82km shuttle return allowed us to view the scenic route we had ridden. We were back at Fareham House by 6.30pm.

A good day had by all!

Day ThreeFeatherston to Baring Head (that was the plan)

Author: Athol Berry

After a 81km cycle to Cape Palliser the previous day we were up early to catch the 6.27am commuter train to Waterloo Station near Lower Hutt. The train duly arrivedwith a goods wagon attached  just for us to carry our 17 bikes.

 After a 35 minute train ride we arrived at Waterloo station and retrieved our bikes and led by Brian Alexander (a former Local) we cycled to the Wellington Top 10 .

Graeme McGowan carried our luggage in his car for us. Thanks Graeme.

From there we cycled along the coast road from Seaview to Eastbourne where we had a coffee stop. Then on to the end of the road  where we found Council had blocked access to the gravel road to Baring Head due to a fire ban.

So a change of plan. Back the way we had come around Wellington Harbour into Wellington City. Stopping for lunch at Sir Frank Kitts Park.

The Wellington waterfront is a very vibrant area with dragon boaters, runners, cyclists and walkers.

On we cycled through Oriental Bay to Kilbirnie and Burkes Cycles and we checked out a great selection of bikes and accessories.

After that our group split up to return to Top 10. Some caught the train, others the ferry to Days Bay and others cycling all the way back.

The ride did not go to plan but we had a great day anyway.

Day Four Red Rocks

Author: Brian Alexander

Saturday no one felt like riding back to the City and most rode up to Upper Hutt..Ellen was keen to see the Beehive so the two of us rode the Petone beach track to catch a train. We were lucky to get on as it was full and one rider was left behind.

Again,sadly,all the tours of the Beehive were booked out so we did our own limited tour before having morning tea at TePapa.  Ellen was keen on my suggestion of riding to Red Rocks so we plotted a course for Island bay and l promptly got us a little lost which l seemed to be good at but we got there and rode along to the road end. I was a little nervous about getting back in time for dinner but with Ellen’s persuasion we pushed on only to get bogged down in unrideable shingle on the 4wd track.

Against my better judgment we pushed on to a hard surface for a while only to get bogged down in soft sand. Against my better judgment we kept going and it was Ellen’s drive that enabled us to finally make it to Red Rocks.. A quick photo and turn around but the wind was now ahead and had increased. We were getting gusts of 50 knots making it hard going. I hit the sand and fell off,Ellen dropped her bike and helped me push through the soft sand then went back for her bike!!   Back on the coast road,past where l’d spear fished 60+years ago, a quick stop for a bite then Ellen navigated us perfectly back to catch a train to Petone and we made it back to Top 10 in time for a shower and dinner with everyone at Lone Star.

Day FiveOver the Remutaka’s 

Author: John McLean

The day started fine and not too windy. A pleasant surprise as strong winds were forecast to make the ride up to Upper Hutt challenging.

Once we were all ready we were off.  Led by Bob M who was the expert on how to find the right trail as some were closed.      We were very quickly on the trail and heading north it was a good day to be on a bike.

About one hour into the ride on a sharp corner with loose gravel Jan had a bad fall.    She was in a lot of pain and had clearly done some damage to her knee.      It was very fortunate that Ian and Jan’s son who lives in Wellington was called to the rescue.    

With Jan and Ian sorted the ride continued to a very welcome coffee and refreshments in Upper Hutt.    

We then set off to the start of the climb up the southern side of the Rimutakas.    The first part of the climb was a challenge, an unexpected steep bit that had a few of us walking for the first time on the tour.   The trail then became more of a gentle, gradual, uphill climb 

The lunch stop was a delightful spot about halfway to the summit in a park with lots of places to sit and relax and enjoy the sunshine.

With still some way to go we came across a go kart race.  This kept us entertained and gave us a short breather before continuing the ride to the top.      As we got closer to the summit there were marker posts showing how many km to go for the last 10km.   

At the summit it was hard to imagine that a whole town had existed.    This was where the Fell Engine trains were changed over and passengers would have waited.   

The trial down the Northern side was most interesting.    This was where our lights became very important.   

The downhill run was one of the highlights of the day.     Smooth trial that was perfect for a fast descent to the bottom of the trail.

Some remains of the steam engines from the Fell Engines at the bottom of the trail

Interestingly after the smooth ride down, the trail out to the road proved to be one of the big challenges of the day.     It was strewn with boulders and sharp turns that challenged all of us to stay upright.   Thankfully this was only a few kms.

The last 10 km stretch into Featherson followed a smooth road. It was a free for all to race back to Farnham lodge,for a  cool beer and a shower.

Then out for dinner at the Royal Hotel Featherston.     We all enjoyed a great meal and a chance to unwind at the end of the tour.    

Thanks to Athol for all the great planning to set the tour up.    Then the ongoing guidance each day to keep us on time and on track.    

Featherston Hub Ride 26th February to 3rd March 2024