The Lower North

Riding the Lower North

The inside line

For sheer enjoyment, riding the Lower North takes a lot of beating. The topography of the region means it has some hugely enjoyable and challenging routes. The Rimutaka range is one amongst plenty of other twisties to discover, along with rugged coastlines, quaint country inns, historic townships and wineries. If you can ever get enough of the sweeping countryside views, make a stop in the coolest little capital in the world for its many attractions, bustling waterfront and cafes.

Check out the routes – you’ll find tips on attractions, scenic landmarks and essential roadside amenities.

Have a great time riding the Lower North.

Things to know

The mighty Rimutaka range is a top attraction for riders: it offers hairpin bends, dramatic inclines and descents, and magnificent views from the summit.

The roads are narrow and winding, and often busy with slow moving traffic. Road debris is also common, so keep your eyes peeled and take your time when passing.

The route is prone to high winds, and frost or snow in winter – make sure you adjust to the conditions.

Riding safely

Here are a few hazards to watch out for in the Greater Wellington region.



From bracing gusts in ‘Windy Wellington’ and over the Rimutakas, to strong sun and heat in the Wairarapa in the summer months, the region’s weather is diverse and changeable so be prepared.

Train Crossing

Railway tracks

There are lots of level crossings, many not controlled by signals, bells or barrier arms, so keep an eye out for Stop or Give Way signs. At Stop signs, come to a complete halt and have a good look in both directions.

scenic lookout

Sightseeing stops

Cars and bikes stopping at touristy spots and rejoining the road present a high crash risk, especially during the summer months. Take special care on approach and when rejoining the road yourself, including a thorough look for other road users.


The Wairarapa is farming country. Watch out for livestock wandering into the road, slippery effluent and roadkill.

Report highway hazards by dialing *555 from your mobile.

To check highway conditions dial 0800 4 HIGHWAYS (0800 44 44 49).

You know the drill

Never forget the essentials that help keep you alive.

Remember, the right speed means having sufficient margin in hand to avoid skids, running wide or any loss of control.

On the longer rides, watch for fatigue, especially in cold weather.

Keep a watch on road surfaces and adjust speed accordingly, but don’t become ‘target fixated’ on the tarmac ahead of your front tyre.

Carry waterproofs, a spare warm layer and water, especially on higher or more remote and exposed routes.

Be patient overtaking. On a motorcycle, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to pass.

When taking bends, remember: in slow and wide, follow the vanishing point and only ‘apex’ when you have a clear view of the exit (especially on double bends).

Right speed, right gear, right position, always.

Other people make mistakes

Stay alert and focused so you can deal with the (inevitable) unexpected. Take breaks when you want to enjoy the scenery.


Assume other road users haven’t seen you and can make mistakes. Ride defensively.

Be aware of blind spots on vans, trucks and buses.

Improve your chances of being seen: dipped beam on; wear bright, contrasting clothing; position yourself conspicuously on the road.

Consider professional training.

It will boost your skills and your enjoyment of riding – check out