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A Manatū Taonga audio guide to the Rimutaka Ranges. Check out the Ministry for Culture and Heritage's audio guide in the image carousel above.

Early European settlers drove sheep around the shoreline rather than attempt to cross the Rimutaka Range between Wellington and Wairarapa. When a railway was built over the mountains in the 1870s, the steep gradient on the Wairarapa side required Fell engines, which have extra horizontal wheels on a central rail. Fell engines were used on the line until a 9-kilometre tunnel opened in 1955.

Wairarapa region: transport,

Rimutaka Incline accident,

Fell engine,


Wellington places: eastern ranges,


Archival audio sourced from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives, Sound files may not be reused without permission from Radio New Zealand Sound Archives (Reference number sa-t-0229pm).

Roadside Stories are a series of audio guides to places of interest on major road trips in New Zealand. Each guide tells the story of an attraction along the way -- its people, its history, its cultural and natural significance. For more information about Roadside Stories visit

Map showing The Rugged Rimutakas - Roadside Stories