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.
One of the country’s most memorable one-day adventures for fit mountain bikers, this NgāHaerenga Great Ride of New Zealand(opens in new window)follows the long-gone Dun Mountain Railwayto 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.
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.
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.