Wairarapa Walks

The Greytown Trail

By North Island, Wairarapa Walks

The Greytown Trail in the Wairarapa is a scenic 5km walking and cycling track connecting Greytown’s quieter streets to the nearest train station at Woodside.

There is a small carpark at the end of Cotter Street, South Greytown. The beginning of the trail is marked with an overhead sign and an information board.
The track fenced on both sides, winds between old oak trees on one side, and flaxes on the other. Then a straight bit runs between two mounds or stopbanks, and is edged by trees.
The limestone track is completely flat, but looking east down the track, and you see the dark green bulk of the Tararua Ranges in the distance especially in the afternoon.
Greytown is 60m above sea level while Woodside is 91m, so it is a slightly an uphill walk or cycle to Woodside Station and some people seem to have noticed the difference when going both ways.
According to a local it can be fine at Greytown and raining when you get closer to the hills at Woodside and when you return to Greytown the weather is fine again.
Some of the time the trail runs through or along open paddocks, other times it meanders between rows of magnificent old oak trees. According to the information board, these trees were planted alongside the rails when the railway line was built in 1880, for future use as sleepers, but have never been used due to the line closing in 1953.
The trail runs between farms, some with sheep, others with cattle. Sheep can been seen grazing in the paddocks. There are bench seats along in the shade under the oak trees.
At the 2.5km mark the trail crosses a country road that also happens to be the half way mark. There is an information sign showing the history of the track.
The trail now crosses a stream with a bridge and runs alongside a row of pine trees, before entering open paddocks again.
The end of the trail is near Woodside station where a small section of the original railway track with the old sleepers is displayed by the side of the trail. The rails were made in the UK in 1874.
Woodside Station is a functioning railway station, serving Greytown on the Wairarapa Line. This line between Wellington and Masterton caters for the many commuters who live in the Wairarapa, but work in Wellington.
The old station is still there, on the other side of the railway line. When the new station was built, the old building was used as a storage shed for some years, but was later abandoned.
One the return journey from Woodside back to Greytown one enjoys different views with the Gladstone hills forming a magnificent backdrop and offset with deep green hues from trees that line the pretty colonial streets of Greytown.
The original survey for the Wairarapa Line, completed in 1876, considered two routes for the line between Featherston and Masterton: the Central route and the Western route. Despite the protestations of the residents of Greytown, the Western route was chosen due to concerns about the possibility of flooding north of Greytown, which meant that the line bypassed Greytown and passed through Woodside instead.
Woodside opened on 14 May 1880 with the extension of the line from Featherston. Until the line from Woodside to Masterton was completed and opened in November of that year, Woodside was the northern terminus of the Wairarapa Line and was operated by the Public Works Department, initially with two mixed trains between Greytown and Wellington each day.
The amenities at Woodside initially consisted of a station building and stationmaster’s house. The station building was on an island platform between the main line and the Greytown Branch, with the junction at the southern end of the platform. There was road access from north of the platform. The branch (eastern) side had two loops, with capacities of 18 and 11 wagons, while on the main line (western) side there were two loops with capacities of 44 and 35 wagons.
Some years after the closure of the Greytown Branch in 1953 the main line yard was removed, and the station building relocated to a new platform on the western side of the main line. A new crossing loop was installed, and the branch sidings reconfigured.
In 1954 the Greytown station building was relocated to Woodside and modified to serve as a goods shed. It is now disused and the loop and sidings have been removed.
With the opening of the line to Masterton and the reversion of the line to Greytown to branch-line status, Woodside became known as Woodside Junction until the closure of the Greytown Branch in 1953: the platform name board read “Woodside Junction. Change here for Greytown.”
“The trail is the culmination of years of hard work by a dedicated group of Greytown residents, the Greytown Trails Trust,” says Barb Hyde, who is the Marketing Manager for Destination Wairarapa.
The dual purpose track follows the route of the Greytown-Woodside branch rail line, which closed in 1953.  Stage one of the trail was completed in 2011 and stage two in 2013 – with both stages being a total of 5km. The Trust holds regular working bees to ensure the track is maintained and local groups, such as the Ruamahanga Ramblers, often choose it to base their regular running and walking outings.
“Although, a short distance from the Main Street of Greytown – with its boutique shopping and bustling cafes – riders feel like they are in the middle of nowhere. Surrounded by farmland, stunning rural views with the only sound coming from nearby stock, it’s no wonder the trail has grown in popularity for recreational cyclists, walkers and runners over the years,” says Barb.
Plans are afoot to hopefully connect the trail with the nearby township of Featherston and to extend the trail from Woodside so it extends north and loops back to Greytown.
How to get there
From the Greytown end, the 5km trail starts at Cotter Street, the second left off Humphries Road (turn off Main Street at the Challenge Service Station) at the southern end of the town. You can also link up with another cycleway running from Udy Street to the Waiohine River.
The Greytown Trail is suitable for prams, road and mountain bikes. It’s not suitable for racing bikes, horses or motorbikes. And please keep your dog on a leash.
If you’re arriving by train, why not bring your bike and ride into town to work up an appetite for lunch? Or catch a pre-booked Rimutaka Shuttles or Martinborough Shuttles from the station.