10 Trails in the Hutt Valley and Where to Treat Yourself After

People biking on a trail in native bush.

Nestled within the lush, rolling landscapes that make up the lower North Island, the Hutt Valley offers an expansive network of interesting walks appealing to both seasoned hikers and casual strollers alike. Whether you’re after a leisurely meander or a more challenging multi-hour ‘slog’, the Hutt Valley trails offer a variety of native bush landscapes and panoramic vistas, meaning there really is something for everyone.

Fortunately, the adventure doesn’t have to end with the last step of the walk; the Hutt Valley also offers a yummy selection of culinary spots to reward the tired explorer. Our guide below unveils ten of the best walks in the Hutt Valley and our suggestion of the perfect places to treat yourself afterwards.

Remutaka Cycle Trail followed by Fig Tree Cafe

The Remutaka Cycle Trail is a 122 kilometre cycleway stretching from Petone Wharf, winding through Hutt Valley and over the Remutaka Ranges into the Wairarapa before following the coast back down the rugged coast towards Wellington. It really does offer a taste of everything — swimming holes, native bush, railway tunnels and plenty of farmland and ocean views. The trail offers plenty of entry points, so regardless of whether you are after something easy, tricky, multi-day or just an afternoon jaunt, there is bound to be something which fits the bill! Whilst the trail can be ridden in either direction, Petone tends to be the most convenient starting point — and there are plenty of bicycle rental options nearby. 

On route, in the leafy green suburb of Heretaunga, the Fig Tree Cafe has made its home in a converted church. With casual seating out front to accommodate the post-hike doggos, the interior is made to feel even more spacious by the high, lofty ceilings. Fig Tree Cafe exudes a real community vibe, from its accessible and comfortable menu right down to its friendly and down-to-earth staff. All sauces, relishes, hashbrowns and meats are made on-site, so you can be sure that everything is made with the utmost love.

Tane’s Track followed by Tricky's Sandwiches

Starting from the Tunnel Gully car park, 10 minutes north of Upper Hutt, Tane’s Track is a 60 minute easy loop trail that encompasses native forests, waterfalls and even some historic railway sites. Pass through mātai, kahikatea and Tawa forest before crossing the old Remutaka railway line and climbing up past a stream and waterfall - definitely at its most impressive after heavy rainfall. The grove of eucalyptus trees was once the campsite for workers who built the Mangaroa Railway Tunnel. Toilets, water and picnic areas are all available at the recreation area near the start of the track.

Hungry bellies will (rightfully) argue that it’s hard to beat a good sandwich, and at Tricky’s Sandwich Co, they’ve made it their business to do just that. Whether it’s a fresh Mediterranean chicken sandwich, the rainbow sandwich (a vegetarian favourite) or a classic grilled cheese, there’s something for all ages, stages and appetites. Don’t forget to check out the baked goods, as everything is made on-site and is of course, extremely moreish.

Te Whiti Riser followed by Twenty Eight

Te Whiti Riser is a trail popular with both walkers and mountain bikers, offering expansive views across Lower Hutt and beyond. Starting at Te Whiti Park, the 3.6km slope is gentle but steady, rising to the firebreak at the top of the Lower Hutt Eastern Hills. Dogs are welcome on leash and the well-maintained trail makes it suitable for all ages and fitness levels, but be prepared for sore legs the next day! 

Afterwards, the thoughtfully crafted menu and cabinet at Twenty Eight in Lower Hutt is the perfect place to unwind. With food options designed to delight (the cheese scones sell out on the regular), accompanied by certain dishes created to push boundaries (fan favourites being the masala hash potatoes and shakshuka) there really is something for everything at Twenty Eight. The light, modern and airy space is welcoming and comfortable, an easy place to order a second cup of coffee or another cheese scone — if there is any left!

 

Butterfly Creek followed by Hive Cafe

A track that begins from Kowhai Street in Eastbourne, visiting Butterfly Creek involves following a trail that climbs rapidly to unveil some stunning views of the Wellington Harbour before descending back down into the Butterfly Creek Valley. It’s an area that is particularly family-friendly, and with an expansive network of sheltered trails to choose from, it’s a walk you can make as long or as short as you please. Offering a toilet and a picnic area with tables, it’s a beautiful spot to wile away the morning. 

Back in Eastbourne, Hive Cafe has a simple vision: to be genuine while providing a place for people to get good coffee and nourish themselves — the perfect place to debrief and relax after any walk! The space is perfect for big groups, and you can choose to sit inside, upstairs or out in the relaxing courtyard. There is a tantalising cabinet, including goodies such as ham off the bone baguettes and almond croissants, and the menu also offers a variety of fresh and flavoursome options.

Cannon Point Walkway including Birchville Dam followed by Gerry's Charcoal Chicken

A stunning place to go chasing waterfalls, the Birchville Dam is a hiking path well trodden and well worth the journey. It can be walked as part of the greater Cannon Point Walkway, a two and a half hour loop trail spanning almost 8 kilometres. Starting at Tulsa Park, this hike zig-zags up through the Akatarawa Forest to a summit with far-reaching views over the Hutt Valley. Continue along the old forestry road to the beautiful Birchville Dam before walking a kilometre further to a suspension bridge which marks the end of the trail. The dam, in particular, is photo-worthy, so don’t forget your camera.

A self-proclaimed “fast food institution to rival the best”, Gerry’s Charcoal Chicken is a revered Upper Hutt institution that has been serving delicious spit-roasted chicken to the community for decades. The storefront is unassuming and perhaps slightly dated, but we all know it’s what’s on the inside that counts. The focus is on dishing out filling, flavoursome meals - where options like the quarter chicken packs with chips are a perennial favourite, and the Cluckin Burgers always go down a treat. Operating simply as a takeaway shop, Gerry’s Charcoal Chicken is sure to hit the spot.

Latimer Lookout followed by Cake & Kitchen

Only a hop, skip and throw from Upper Hutt’s CBD is Maidstone Park, a greenspace that is home to the epic Maidstone Max Adventure Playground, as well as multiple bike tracks, sports fields and trails. One of these trails is the short and sweet (but steep!) 20 minute trail up to Latimer Lookout, where your effort is rewarded with views across Upper Hutt and down the valley. Allow 45 minutes to return, faster if you treat it as a workout.

Across the way from Maidstone Park is Cake & Kitchen, a cafe that takes a comprehensive approach to sustainability and offers a banging avo on toast. The staff are friendly, the interior is lush (its leafy interior will make you feel like you never left the bush!), and the cabinet food offers a perfect treat post walk. There's a real focus on supporting local, minimising consumer footprints and creating a sense of community. 

Mt Climie followed by Brewtown

Situated just north of Upper Hutt lies Mt Climie, an 860m high peak forming part of the iconic Rimutaka Range landscape. One of the region's most popular alpine hikes, climbing up Mt Climie takes around 4 hours return and you’ll cover just shy of 12 kilometres in doing so. The trail starts from the car park and picnic area at the Tunnel Gully Recreation Area and there’s only one path to follow, and that’s up! Your effort will be well rewarded with extensive views over the Hutt Valley on one side and across to the Wairarapa on the other.

For a celebration well earned, head to Upper Hutt’s Brewtown to continue the fun and perhaps indulge in a cold bevvy or two. Brewtown is essentially a village of craft breweries, a boutique distillery, and over 35 different businesses. It is home to much loved Panhead Custom Ales, Boneface Brewing Co. and Te Aro Brewing Co., to name just a few. And if you’re somehow in the mood for yet another activity, try your hand at axe throwing, an escape room or give the on-site adventure park a go.

Petone Beach Walkway followed by Baylands Brewery

One of the Hutt Valley's most accessible walks is the Petone Waterfront Walk. The Esplanade stretches from State Highway 2 along to the Hikoikoi Reserve, near the mouth of Te Awa Kairangi / Hutt River. It’s a paved walkway, running alongside the beach and is frequented by walkers, runners and cyclists on the regular. The beach is dog-friendly, so expect to see some of our four-legged friends chasing sticks amongst the waves! 

Only a small detour from the waterfront is the Baylands Brewery and Taproom. A relaxed, welcoming space offering up a wide range of fresh beer and tasty food (including tacos, burgers and fried chicken), Baylands is somewhere that proudly puts an emphasis on quality. Their flagship IPA, Woodrows Veto, has been brewed since the day it opened and remains a staple in the beer rotation, as well as plenty of other award-winning IPAs on tap. Abandoned Cellar Door Petone is another spot worth seeking out for a celebratory IPA.

 

The inside of Bellbird Eatery.

Bellbird Eatery. 

Ōrongorongo Track followed by Bellbird Eatery

Perfect on a hot summer's day, the Ōrongorongo Track winds through native broadleaf and mixed podocarp forests alongside the Ōrongorongo River, complete with plenty of swimming holes around the Tūrere Stream for cooling down. Another longer walk, the trail takes about 90 minutes each way and is slightly more challenging than some of the others on this list. Access the trail from Catchpool Valley, situated 12km south of Wainuiomata. 

After your walk, it’s worth the drive to Bellbird Eatery to complement the wander by surrounding yourself in a space inspired by the flight of the Bellbird. The eatery champions local and organic produce alongside coffee, beer, and wine. It’s a slick and modern setup with plenty on offer, and as it’s situated within the Dowse Art Museum, there’s the added option of art wandering. 

 

Pencarrow Lighthouse followed by Tartines French Café

Pencarrow Lighthouse is one of the area's most iconic landmarks and one of the longest Hutt Valley walks on this list. It’s also a popular biking trail. From Eastbourne, it’s approximately a four hour return trip out to Pencarrow Heads along a wide, flat and gravelled coastal track. To get to the lighthouse itself (note, you can’t go inside), follow the narrow uphill walking track or follow the coast around to the gate, where you’ll find a wider four-wheel drive track. While it offers one of the most unique viewpoints in the city, it’s also pretty exposed, so check wind direction (and strength!) before you go. Another option is hiring bikes from Wildfinder at the start of the trail. They have pedal power and e-bikes to make the journey easier. 

Back in Eastbourne, Tartines French Cafe is a popular cafe and deli located in the heart of the village. It brings a small slice of French culinary delight to the Hutt, and with its paved courtyard, aromas of baking baguettes and authentic flavours, it’s not hard to imagine yourself being whisked to the French countryside! Inside, the shelves are laden with deli goodies, such as chutneys, preserves and oils, and the cabinet positively overflows with delicately made tarts and pastries. Any hiker that’s come from Pencarrow definitely deserves a wine, and fortunately for them, Tartine’s is licensed. Notable menu classics include French onion soup, beef bourguignon, crepes and galettes. 

 

Neat Hutt Valley Places

Baylands Brewery

Interior of taproom at Baylands Brewery in Lower Hutt
Place Hutt Valley Lower Hutt
Bars key icon. Restaurants key icon.

Based in Petone, Baylands Brewery and Taproom is a relaxed, welcoming space offering up a wide range of fresh beer and tasty food.

Miss Fortune's

Coffee machine and bags of coffee on a colourful counter in Miss Fortune's cafe
Place Hutt Valley Lower Hutt
Cafes key icon.

Lower Hutt’s industrial precinct isn’t exactly where you’d think to head for a slice of quintessential Wellington hospitality, but at Miss Fortune’s, you’ll find one of the region’s most charismatic little brunch spots.

Bellbird Eatery

Scrambled egg and mushrooms on toast.
Place Hutt Valley
Cafes key icon.

Museum and art gallery cafes have really upped their game in recent years, evolving from simple refreshment pit stops to become attractions in their own right.

Comes & Goes

Peoples Coffee footpath sign outside Comes & Goes café in Petone.
Place Hutt Valley
Cafes key icon.

Comes & Goes is a brilliant addition to the Wellington café scene, bringing an explosion of edible flowers and culinary masterpieces that Wellingtonians are welcoming with open arms.