Dun Mountain Trail

1 Day

43 Km

Highlights

  • Panoramic views
  • Crazy alpine landforms
  • Exhilarating 20km downhill

Proximity

Grade 3-4

Intermediate - Advanced

You are here

This readily accessible loop ride from downtown Nelson climbs to a rocky mountaintop offering epic Tasman Bay views and an exciting downhill.

Nelson
Dun Mountain Trail, Nelson

By Sven Martin

Nelson
Dun Mountain Cycle Trail, Nelson

By Dun Mountain Cycle Trail

Nelson
Dun Mountain Cycle Trail, Nelson

By Grant Stirling

Nelson
Abel Tasman National Park, Nelson

By Nelson Tasman Tourism

Overview

This memorable one-day mountain bike ride traces the old Dun Mountain Railway into breathtaking alpine territory before barreling downhill for 20km back to Nelson city. Dun Mountain’s unique geology, rich mining history and epic viewpoints make this one of New Zealand’s finest day rides for fit, experienced riders.

Riding the trail

One of this trail’s many charms is that it starts just 15-minutes’ bike ride from central Nelson. Completing the full loop involves a technical downhill over loose, rocky terrain, and should only be attempted by experienced mountain bikers with energy to burn. Riders of lesser ability, however, can still enjoy a view-filled adventure by following the trail up to Coppermine Saddle and returning the same way.

From the trail entrance at Brook Street, the track climbs gently but steadily up the flanks of Dun Mountain along an old railway corridor used to transport chromite from nearby mines. With increasing elevation the view widens into an impressive panorama back across Nelson, Tasman Bay, and the faraway ranges.

Emerging from mature beech forest onto an exposed ridge, the vegetation changes dramatically to stunted manuka and scrubland as it passes into the infertile but distinctly coloured mineral belt. The single track then continues up to the trail’s highpoint, Coppermine Saddle (878m), affording dramatic views of the Richmond Range.

From the saddle it’s almost 10km of thrilling, often technical downhill over rocky but rideable terrain. At Maitai Dam the track flattens out for a leisurely cruise down the Maitai Valley road back to Nelson where bars and cafes offer well-deserved refreshment.

View trail map here.

Be prepared

The ride to Coppermine Saddle is grade 3 (intermediate), while the rocky downhill section from to Maitai Dam is grade 4 (advanced) but followed by a relatively easy grade 3 (intermediate) meander back to Nelson. A mountain bike is recommended.

The trail is well signposted but remote in parts, so riders should carry a map, plenty of water and snacks, basic tool kit, and a cellphone (although coverage is patchy). Riders should let someone know their intentions before they set off.

Much of the trail is in an alpine environment where weather can change rapidly. Visitors should check the forecast and track conditions before they set off, and take clothing for all eventualities.

Transport & tours

From central Nelson, it’s an easy 15-minute ride to the start of the trail. Numerous local companies offer bike hire along with transport and tours, including Biking Nelson, Escape Adventures, Nelson Cycle Hire & Tours and Wheelie Fantastic Cycle Tours.

Accommodation

Nelson and Motueka are visitor-friendly bases for cycling adventures throughout the region, but there are plenty more options in the surrounding countryside.

 

Plan your mountain biking holiday

  • Key Mountain Biking Tours Operators

    Enjoy the freedom of riding without the hassle of logistics by taking a guided or self-guided mountain bike tour.

    Read more

  • New Zealand Mountain Biking Tips & FAQs

    Few countries in the world serve up such diverse riding – from urban forest trails to rugged, remote mountaintop tracks. Plan to stay safe and savour them.

    Read more

  • New Zealand Travel Guide

    Planning a biking holiday to New Zealand? Read our practical travel advice before you depart.

    Read more

We're sorry, but there are no trails matching your search in this region.

Where to next?

Rameka Track →

Queen Charlotte MB Track →

Heaphy Mountain Biking Trail →

Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park →