With stunning Wairarapa views, wine-tasting and plenty of rural charm, this is a pleasant touring route betweeen Masterton and the Remutaka Cycle Trail.
Heading southwest from Masterton, the trail passes through Gladstone and Martinborough, both known for their vineyards and country hospitality, while long stretches of quiet road will give you plenty of opportunity to soak up the panoramic views.
The trail ends near the shore of vast Wairarapa Moana (Lake Wairarapa), where it intersects with the Remutaka Cycle Trail at Western Lake Road. This road also leads north to Featherston town and the train to Wellington.
Note that this Heartland Ride also links to Route 52 heading north from Masterton.
From the main street in Masterton, cycle east on Church Street. Turn right onto Colombo Street, then left onto Johnstone Street. Johnstone soon becomes Te Whiti Road and heads to Martinborough via the small settlement of Gladstone.
Almost 50km from Masterton is Martinborough, heart of Wairarapa wine-country with plenty of opportunities for tastings and cellar-door dining. It offers a heart-warming blend of down-to-earth rural charm and sophisticated indulgence. The village centre itself is leafy and attractive.
The main road from Martinborough to Featherston is SH53, but it’s very busy with a long, narrow bridge across the Ruamahanga River, 2km out of Martinborough; this bridge does not meet New Zealand Cycle Trail safety criteria.
The safer and therefore recommended alternative is to ride southwest out of Martinborough on Jellicoe Street, which becomes Lake Ferry Road.
After 18.7km, turn right onto Kahutara Road. After another 2km, turn left onto East West Access Road (noting that it’s possible to take a 36km return detour to Lake Ferry, famous for its hotel serving fish and chips. This is also the direction of travel to reach legendary Ngawi and the Cape Palliser Lighthouse).
At end of East West Access Road, about 34km from Martinborough, you will reach the T-intersection with Western Lake Road; this is also the junction with the Remutaka Cycle Trail.
Turn left to follow the Remutaka Cycle Trail around the wild coast (making sure you are well prepared and the forecast is favourable), or turn right head over the Remutaka Rail Trail or follow the road to Featherston.
From Featherston you can catch the train to Wellington, or linger a while to enjoy the town’s restful air and friendly hospitality.
A helpful source of information about this ride, and other Heartland Rides, is Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails by the Kennett Brothers.
Need to Know
FITNESS & SKILLS
The surface of this trail is 100% sealed road, and is suitable for most levels of rider of average fitness. However, due to the amount of traffic, especially between Martinborough and Featherston, it is grade 4 (advanced); good road sense is required and riders should be prepared to encounter traffic at any time.
TYPE OF BIKE
Road bikes and touring bikes are best suited to the terrain; e-bikes are also suitable. Riders should ideally have basic mechanical skills and carry a tool kit and spares.
MAPS & NAVIGATION
The Wairarapa’s country roads are well signposted, but a map will prevent wrong turns, help you time your ride, and identify points of interest along the way.
Warm summers and mild winters make it possible to ride this trail all year round. However, heavy rain can occur at any time of the year so a good raincoat is essential.
A variety of accommodation is available in Masterton, Martinborough, Featherston, and at farmstays, cottages, BnBs and lodges in the surrounding countryside.
FOOD & WATER
Food is available Masterton, Martinborough and Featherston. Food (and fabulous wines) are also available at some wineries, primarily dotted around the Martinborough and Gladstone areas. The Gladstone pub is also a popular stop.
Drinking water is available in the main towns. River/stream water should be boiled or treated.
Regular trains run between the capital , Wellington, and the Wairarapa stopping at Featherston and Masterton. Intercity buses also service Masterton, while local buses run between Martinborough and Featherston.
Coverage is available at main towns but can be patchy in rural areas.
WHEN TO RIDE
This trail can be enjoyed all year round, forecast permitting.
Public toilets are available in Masterton, Martinborough and Featherston.