Tasman's Great Taste Trail and Nelson's Dun Mountain Trail

The Nelson Tasman Trails are one of the 23 Great Rides under Nga Haerenga, The New Cycle Trail.

Tasman's Great Taste Trail

Sections Open

Grade: Easy (2) - Intermediate (3)

Duration: 1 - 4 days

Total Length: 38175km

Nelson's Dun Mountain Trail

Status: Open

Grade: Intermediate (3) - Advanced (4)

Duration: 4 - 6 hours

Total Length: 38km

Tasman’s Great Taste Trail and the Dun Mountain Trail will appeal to a wide cross section of cyclists and day trippers. 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 renowned for its strengths in the arts, and in food and wine.

Tasman's Great Taste Trail

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.

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 about 1.4km emerging just south of Belgrove. The trail then passes through Wakefield and then heads back to Richmond, which rounds off the 175km.  

Cycle route directions

There are currently two significant sections of Tasman's Great Taste Trail that are ready to ride:

Rabbit Island to Mapua: From the entrance to Rabbit Island (30km west of Nelson) follow an easy cycle trail to the western end of the island. From there you can catch the Flat Bottom Fairy across to the village of Mapua, which has a range of shops to buy food from. After refuelling, catch the ferry back to Rabbit Island and cycle back to the start.

Nelson to Richmond: Fourteen kilometres of easy cycle trail between Nelson and Richmond is open and ready to ride. It provides a pleasant half-day ride.
A rail trail starts from the small park on the corner of Saint Vincent St and Totara St, 2km southwest of the Nelson i-Site. After another 2km you will ride onto Beatson Road and down to another cycle trail beside Whakatu Drive. You pass Nelson Airport and will now be on the Tasman’s official Great Taste Trail Loop Trail. Carefully follow the cycle trail signs down to the Coastal Route to Richmond.  From Lower Queen Street in Richmond the path continues another 1.4 km to the Appleby Highway overbridge. It will be extended to Brightwater by the end of 2011.

Note: At busy traffic times the crossing of Lower Queen Street on a bike is not safe. It is best to ride to the traffic lights, hop off your bike and cross as a pedestrian.

Dun Mountain Trail

The 38km Dun Mountain Trail begins 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 is now fully completed and was opened on 12 November 2011.

The Dun Mountain Trail is a Grade 3 intermediate level trail. The trail is suitable for most intermediate riders with a decent level of fitness required. Although the ride time may only take 4-6 hours, allow a day to enjoy this unique environment.

The Dun Mountain rises to 1,129 metres and, due to its unique geology, is one of the most distrinctive mountains around Nelson. 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.

Riders: If you are riding to the Dun Mountain Trail, access is best via the Brook Street entrance, just 2.7km from Nelson City centre. Head south out of Nelson up the Brook Valley to 135 Brook St where you will see an entrance sign and a kiosk immediately before Blick Terrace.

Drivers: For those driving to the start of the Dun Mountain Trail, head 6km up the Maitai Valley from Nelson past the golf course to right beside the Maitai Camping Ground to here a similar entrance sign and kiosk have been installed.

Best time to ride

The Nelson/Tasman region regularly celebrates the highest sunshine hours in New Zealand making this trail a comfortable to ride throughout the year.

Getting there

Nelson's central location at the top of the South Island makes the region very accessible from all points around New Zealand, whether arriving by air, by sea or by road. 

Trail partners

Nelson Cycle Trails Trust, Nelson City Council, Tasman District Council, Regional Economic Development Agency, Nelson Airport, Nelson Tasman Tourism, and The New Zealand Cycle Trail project.

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