At long last, Emma and I had made it through the seemingly infinite Summit Tunnel.
We continued on to explore some more of the track on the other side. We could see the trail snaking downhill in the distance, heading towards Wairarapa.
When we came to a lookout platform, we took the opportunity to set up another self-timer shot. I managed to cut my head off a tiny bit, but the result was pretty amusing.
When we returned to the path, we soon came to Siberia Tunnel, which was quite short compared to the others. You can make out much more detail in the photo than was apparent to the naked eye. It’s crazy to think of all the work that must’ve gone into building this tunnel (not to mention the Summit Tunnel!) by hand in the late 19th century.
On the other side, we came to one of the steepest bits of the trail, which lead down to Horseshoe Gully.
According to the Greater Wellington Regional Council, a large earth embankment collapsed in a huge washout in 1962 and filled the gully. The concrete intake shaft installed to divert the stream still stands today.
This is the closest you’ll get to any “ancient ruins” in a place like New Zealand.
Of course we had to treat it like it was the Leaning Tower of Pisa or something. It isn’t actually leaning, but the angle of my photo makes it look that way.
There were still remnants of the railroad in the stream bed, too.
When we’d finished exploring this spot, we decided it was probably time to start the trek back the way we’d come. We had already hiked about 11 km (7 miles), so we had quite the distance to cover back to the car.
We decided to give the lookout photoshoot another go, preferably without chopping off heads this time.
Please note, there isn’t actually a big drop-off behind us, so we weren’t courting danger.
And then, to brave the Summit Tunnel one last time!
Not before photographing this cute little waterfall, though.
We made great time on the way back, and seeing the same views a second time rendered them no less impressive.
I especially enjoyed picking trailside blackberries, which grew in multitudes all along the track.
Ladle Bend looked even better in the afternoon light.
Before long, we neared the beginning (or end?) of the trail and the rolling farmland of the Hutt Valley.
We were pretty spent by the time we reached the car, having walked 22 km (14 miles), but Emma and I both agreed it was well worth it. I’d love to do it again sometime and hike the entire trail to Wairarapa if transportation could be arranged from the end. Biking it could be a good option, too.
I hope you enjoyed this virtual journey through the mountains! The Rimutaka Rail Trail is remarkably easy to hike, but you also feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere, so you get the best of both worlds. I’d recommend it to anyone.
More adventures to come soon…