Rimutaka is a super-popular forest park easily accessed by both Wellington and the Hutts. Expect weekend crowds. The main attractions of this park are a bunch of relatively easy and well made tracks throughout the dense bush as well as picnic and camping areas alongside the pleasant Catchpool stream.
A highlight is the Orongorongo Track—referred to as “one of New Zealand’s most popular trails.” It’s 50 minutes one-way to the Orongorongo River junction, the entire way a captivating bush walk filled with birdsong and stream gurgles…ahhhh. Amazingly, there are NO STEPS the entire one hour length—maybe the only step-free bush walk on the island! Look up as you stroll...no steps or roots to trip you up…yay! Reaching the river junction you’ll find a surprisingly wide-open sunny canyon where you can explore either up or down stream to find your own private spot…or survey the nearby huts.
The 5-mile/Middle Ridge loop is a great 45-minute jaunt, a little steeper…more bush and stream, roots and rocks, views at the top, and a neat Beech and Rata forest where you may even spy a possum putting the munch to a Rata. Add the Catchpool loop for an extra 20 minutes.