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Motorised recreation

Motorised recreation

Updated 22 July 2021 4:17pm

The Akatarawa Forest is an important regional resource for motorised recreation. Permit systems are run for the two types of motorised recreation allowed in the Akatarawa Forest. 

 Four wheel driving

Four wheel drive clubs can apply for Special Access Permits

From July 1st 2014 four wheel drive clubs access will only be approved for current ARAC certified trip leaders. For safety and environmental reasons, no private 4WD trips are allowed into the Akatarawa Forest.

All motorised recreational users must comply with the Motorised Recreational User Code, developed by ARAC and Greater Wellington in 1997. The code explains the restrictions and behaviour standards necessary to meet Greater Wellington's statutory obligations to protect the environment, other recreational users and adjoining landowners.

ARAC and Greater Wellington have since developed 4WD access maps identifying specific tracks that are available for motorised recreation. Conditions apply to some tracks to minimise impacts and motorised use will no longer be allowed if conditions are not met.

LUV (Light Utility Vehicle) or Side by Sides

LUV’s are permitted into Akatarawa Forest for recreational purpose with an approved club and ARAC/GW trip leader. Approved club and ARAC/GW trip leaders enter through the locked gates with the club’s electronic fob key.

Drivers must comply with the Motorised Recreational User Code. Head protection, ie, helmets to be worn by all people in LUV. Casual (non-club) entry or entry over/through fences and gates is not allowed.

 Trail biking 

Good news! You can now get your trail biking permits instantly.  We have received a lot of feedback over the years from our trail bikers. One of the things you wanted was instant permits and for us to make it easier to find these on our website. We have been working hard behind the scenes to make this happen for you.  Just click on "Apply for trail biking permit", set up or log in to your MyGW account, select the permit you want, and your permit will be emailed back to you within minutes. 

Permits can now only be applied for via our website and are no longer available in paper format or from the Upper Hutt office.

Please remember that you must have your permit on you at all times within the designated area. To make things easier for you, you can simply take a screenshot of your permit and keep it on your phone. Then you can show the Ranger if you are asked so there is no need to print it out if you don’t want to. We hope you enjoy this new streamlined process!

Today there is an extensive network of roads and old logging tracks through the regenerating bush and pine trees of the Akatarawa Forest. The main four wheel drive roads through the forests are open to the public for quad and trail biking, and there is a trail bike zone through the forest. Trail bikes are not allowed elsewhere in the forest or in the other regional parks.

All casual trail bikers must have individual permits. Greater Wellington issues these permits at no charge. Apply for your trail biking permit.

There is a 30km per hour speed limit in the forest. Casual two- and four-wheel drive off-road racing, scrambling, motocross, and competitive riding or driving is not permitted.


Sensitive ecological zones

Trail biking is not permitted in ecologically sensitive zones such as:

  • The summits of Mounts Barton, Maunganui, Titi and Wainui
  • The upper Akatarawa Valley
  • Riparian zones (rivers and stream margins), stream beds, swamps and wetlands

Greater Wellington and the Akatarawa Recreation Access Committee (ARAC) have agreed guidelines for motorised recreation in the forest to help protect the environment, other recreational users and adjoining landowners. Your co-operation with this code will impact directly on the future access of motorised recreational users to this area – please respect it.


Trail bike routes

Whakatiki Loop

Distance: 22 km return

Leave Maungakotukutuku Road and climb up Perhams Road to Titi Ridge. Turn right and ride around an 8 km loop through exotic forest to the headwaters of the Whakatiki River. Follow Hydro Valley and Whakatiki Road back to Titi Road. Return down Perhams Road to Maungakotukutuku Valley.


Karapoti-Toi Toi Road

Distance: 41 km return

Ride 8 km up Karapoti Gorge past McGhies Bridge to the clearing. Cross the Akatarawa River West, climb over the Pram Track (530 m) and down to Dopers Creek. Turn left and climb steadily up Rimu Road. At Toi Toi Road turn right down Hydro Road to Orange Hut. From Orange Hut the return route is downstream to Dopers Creek and back over the Pram Track to Karapoti.


Akatarawa Forest Traverse

Distance: 27 km

This route links Maungakotukutuku Valley with Karapoti Road in Upper Hutt. Ride up Perhams Road to Titi Ridge, turn right and then left down Whakatiki Road. After crossing Dopers Creek climb steeply over the Pram Track (530 m) and down to the ford at Akatarawa River West. From here it is a gentle 8 km ride through Karapoti Gorge to Akatarawa.


Mini motorcross course

The Kapi Mana Motorcycle Club runs a limited number of mini-motorcross eventsnear the Bulls Run Road entrance to the Akatarawa Forest (via Cooks Rd and Moonshine Rd off SH58). These are ideal opportunities for young riders to participate in trail biking with appropriate supervision.

Please phone the co-ordinator Alan Cressey 04 563 7177

Safety and Responsibility 

  • Stay on designated tracks. Refer to motorised recreation map.
  • Keep your speed down and keep left – these are not race tracks. Remember the 30 km per hour speed limit
  • Consider track conditions and other track users. Always assume there may be someone coming around the next corner
  • Respect other people’s rights. Always give way to others and pass with care
  • Use approved safety gear  (gloves, boots, chest protectors) and always wear a helmet
  • Ride or drive well-maintained bikes or vehicles with effective mufflers
  • Travel in groups and with experienced people, in case you have an accident and to avoid getting lost
  • Take warm clothing. Be prepared for rapid weather changes and rapid flooding of river crossings
  • Let others know of your intended route and estimated time of return
  • Please report any vandalism of signs or damage to tracks (such as slips or blocked culverts) to Greater Wellington's Upper Hutt office
  • Every party should carry a first aid kit, map and compass, breakdown tools, tow rope, food and drink and a cell-phone and fire extinguisher
  • Always carry a valid permit. You may be asked to produce it
  • Respect the environment and Greater Wellington’s responsibilities for managing the forest and water quality
  • Leave no trace of your visit – don’t litter. Take all of your own and maybe other people’s rubbish home