Threaded through the Rimutaka Ranges, the second section is a journey into New Zealand's past. Riders follow the old railway route, established in 1878 to connect the population centres with the rich farmland beyond.
Full of photo opportunities, the trail plunges through restored rail tunnels and crosses picturesque bridges spanning the Pakuratahi River. Through a mix of native bush and plantation forest the route is a moderate climb to Summit, followed by an entertaining downhill section which includes tunnels up to 584m long.
Riders pass through the old rail-yards and follow the descent path of the historic Fell Locomotive Incline. Visit the museum in nearby Featherston to learn more about this triumph of Victorian engineering.
Riders emerge from the ranges at Cross Creek, into the wide-open expanse of the Wairarapa Valley.
- Mangaroa Tunnel - A 253m long tunnel, built between 1875 and 1877, as part of the original Wellington to Wairarapa rail link.
- Pakuratahi Tunnel - built in 1876 and 73m long, this was the first concrete block structure in New Zealand.
- Pakuratahi Truss Bridge - 1876; 28m long, this is a "Howe" truss bridge. It is the oldest truss bridge in New Zealand, and was rebuilt in 1910 after a fire. Greater Wellington Regional Council restored the bridge in 2001.
- Ladle Bend Creek Bridge - 1875; 70m long; this is New Zealand's second oldest simple beam (understrutted) bridge. It has stone abutments and a central pier. Greater Wellington Regional Council restored this bridge in 2002.
- Summit Yards - this was the site of five cottages, a signal box, water tank, ashpit, turntable (1943) and old locomotive remnants (not from "Fell" engines). Since 2000 there has been significant landscaping and planting work carried out in this area.
- Summit Tunnel - dating from 1877, this is 584m long, and was resurfaced together with the rest of the Rail Trail in 1999. The 1 in 15 gradient used for the Fell engines started part way through this tunnel.
- Siberia Tunnel -1878, 108m long.
- Horsehoe "Siberia" Gully - A large earth embankment on a sweeping 100m radius curve filled the gully from 1876 to 1967 when it collapsed in a massive washout. The concrete intake shaft installed to collect and divert the stream remains standing in the gully.
- Price's Tunnel - 1875-76. 98m long, this has a 1 in 15 grade on an "S" curve.