The Nelson/Tasman region is an outstanding cycling destination. It is close to iconic attractions such as the Abel Tasman National Park. The region also has good weather and is renown for its strengths in the arts, and in food and wine. These trails will appeal to a wide cross section of cyclists and day trippers.
Suitable for all levels of riders this is a 175km trail taking 4 days to complete.
Starting at Richmond, the trail offers panoramic coastal views over Tasman Bay, Waimea Estuary, and the Western Ranges, including Mt Arthur, Mt Owen and the Crusaders.
Riders pass over boardwalks along the edge of the Waimea Estuary; home to a range of internationally significant bird species including the white heron.
From here the trail crosses to Rabbit Island, where riders can take a boat trip to Mapua wharf and enjoy cottage industry shops, cafes and restaurants. The route north-west from Mapua leads to Motueka, which hosts award winning wineries, then on to Riwaka, the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park.
As a side trip, you could take a trip over the Takaka Hill to Takaka and Golden Bay where a vareity of great cycle trails are also available - including the the new Heaphy Track cycle trail.
The southern section of trail passes down quiet back roads along the Motueka River’s west bank emerging into a landscape of sheltered valleys surrounded by forest and glacial mountains. At Tapawera, cyclists will then begin a 56kms ride along an abandoned railway corridor past historic tobacco drying kilns to Kohatu Junction. Riders are advised to bring a torch as moving further north, you will pass through New Zealand’s longest decommissioned Spooner rail tunnel, a gentle curve of 1.384kms emerging just south of Belgrove. The trail then passes through Wakefield and then heads back to Richmond, which rounds off the 175km.
The 43km Dun Mountain Trail is a copper mine epic which starts and ends in The Brook, a Nelson suburb and follows the route of New Zealand’s first railway (1862) as it winds through forest before crossing an alpine mineral belt and descending past the Maitai Dam down the Maitai River and back into Nelson.
This exciting one day ride, usually for the more experienced riders, is in the midst of an upgrade to an intermediate level. The full trail is closed from Coppermine Saddle down to the South branch Maitai River crossing until mid-September 2011. There will be signage at appropriate places advising all users of this. However, you can still ride the Dun Mountain Trail, as a there-and-back ride from Brook Street to Coppermine Saddle until the upgrade is finished.
Early sections give glimpses of the Waimea plains to the south and west. More extensive views can be enjoyed back across Nelson and beyond to Tasman Bay and Abel Tasman National Park. Third House is a good place to pause for a break and a chance to listen to bellbirds, or be entertained by ever-inquisitive wekas.
The trail’s emergence onto the mountaintops near Windy Point and Coppermine Saddle offer stunning views of Tasman Bay.
The Nelson/Tasman region regularly celebrates the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand making this trail a comfortable to ride throughout the year.