1 Day (4-6 Hrs) 43 Km

Highlights

  • Panoramic views
  • Unique alpine landscape
  • Exhilarating 20km downhill

Proximity

Grade 3-4

Intermediate - Advanced

Starting from central Nelson, the Coppermine Trail is an excellent mountain bike trail that treats you with amazing alpine landscape, epic views and a super-fun descent.

Coppermine Trail 12.5km sign, New Zealand

One of the country’s most memorable one-day adventures for fit mountain bikers, this Ngā Haerenga Great Ride of New Zealand(opens in new window) follows the long-gone Dun Mountain Railway to the vast panoramas of Coppermine Saddle. Soak up its strange, alpine sights before blasting back down through rock gardens and lush forest. The peaceful rural surrounds of the Maitai Valley are the perfect wind down before your return to the city centre with all its cafes, pubs and attractions.

Ride experience

Starting in Nelson’s vibrant city centre, Coppermine Trail is a 4–6 hour ride which heads directly into spectacular hill country via Codger’s Mountain Bike Park(opens in new window) and a reasonably gentle tramway-line climb up Dun Mountain(opens in new window). Storyboards share the early mining history, while ever-broader panoramas offer a fantastic perspective of Tasman Bay and the surrounding ranges. 

Sweet-smelling beech forest thins to strange, stunted scrubland as the trail passes into the brightly coloured mineral belt. You’ll want to linger awhile at Windy Corner, and again at Coppermine Saddle (878m) where there are 360-degree views across the top of the south island. 

It’s a thrilling downhill cycle through bright red rock gardens and native bush before the trail levels out along the Maitai Valley. The leisurely riverside meander back to town is perfect for reflecting on your adventure before you hit a cafe or pub for post-ride refreshment. 

New Zealand Cycle Trail Official Website

A detailed description of this Great Ride, including maps and more information, can be found here.

Coppermine Trail(opens in new window)

Need to know

  • The climb to Coppermine Saddle is grade 3 (intermediate). The the rocky downhill section from to Maitai Dam is grade 4 (advanced). From there it’s a grade 3 (intermediate) cycle back to Nelson. A mountain bike is recommended, and E-mountain bikes are becoming popular on this trail. 
  • The Coppermine Trail is well signposted but remote in parts, so cyclists should carry a map and be self-sufficient for food, water and mechanical breakdowns. Mobile phone coverage is only available in some areas and not consistant. There are toilets at convenient intervals. A PLB (personal locator beacon) is recommended.
  • Much of the trail is in an alpine environment where weather can change rapidly. The trail can be cycled on all year round, but you should check the forecast and current track conditions before beginning the trail, and always carry appropriate clothing. 
  • Shorter, lower-altitude rides can be enjoyed from either end, particularly in Codgers Mountain Bike Park(opens in new window) which has numerous loop options for different ages and abilities. 
  • The Nelson–Tasman region is also home to another Great Ride, the Tasman's Great Taste Trail.

Transport & tours

From central Nelson, it’s an easy 15-minute ride to the start of the trail. Local companies offer bike hire along with transport and tours, including Gravity Nelson(opens in new window), Gentle Cycling(opens in new window), Cycle Journeys(opens in new window)Biking Nelson(opens in new window), Nelson Cycle Hire & Tours(opens in new window) and Wheelie Fantastic Cycle Tours(opens in new window).

The trail’s official partners can be found on the Great Rides of New Zealand(opens in new window) and official Coppermine Trail(opens in new window) websites. 

Accommodation

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

The trail’s official partners can be found on the Great Ride of New Zealand(opens in new window) and official Coppermine Trail(opens in new window) websites. 

Useful links

Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails(opens in new window)

Coppermine Trail(opens in new window)

Nelson Tasman Tourism(opens in new window)

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