URGENT Safety Message:
Please note that traffic volumes in the area have increased significantly since the Kaikoura earthquake due to the close of State Highway 1. It is NOT RECOMMENDED for riders to use State Highway 63 between Tophouse Road and St Arnaud village due to these increased traffic volumes.
Wakefield — St Arnaud (1 day, 59km)
The Golden Downs Trail links Tasman’s Great Taste Trail (part of the Nelson/Tasman Trails) at Wakefield with St Arnaud, gateway to the Nelson Lakes National Park.
It follows back country roads through farmland and forestry plantations and offers expansive views of the three mountain ranges bordering the Tasman district (Richmond, Kahurangi and Nelson Lakes).
The Golden Downs Trail is an intermediate grade cycle route that can be ridden in one day. It traverses open roads with 100 kph speed limits and, riding north to south, it includes two significant hill climbs that require a reasonable level of fitness. South to north the route is predominantly downhill, providing an easier ride.
The Nelson/Tasman enjoys a moderate climate with few extremes of weather. However, commonsense should prevail, even for a day excursion - check the weather forecast before you head off and carry appropriate clothing with you.
Services and Accommodation
Wakefield has a cafe, takeaways and general store for food and supplies. Accommodation options include one hotel and three bed and breakfasts.
In St Arnaud there is a general store, motor camp, backpackers hostel and a range of holiday homes available to rent.
There are no shops in between, so go well-stocked with the food and drink you require for the day.
The Tophouse Historic Hotel (8km from St Arnaud) offers bed and breakfast or chalet accommodation and a restaurant. Fully licensed, it boasts the smallest bar in New Zealand. The hotel also serves devonshire teas, a specialty featuring tea, coffee and homemade scones. Tophouse has limited opening days and times, especially during the winter.
The only other accommodation en route is at Wairua Pass (at the corner of Tophouse Road and State Highway 63) where there is a bed and breakfast.
Mobile phone reception is limited outside Wakefield and St Arnaud.
The Golden Downs Trail can be ridden all year. There may occasionally be snow on the higher hills in the depths of winter, but it doesn't settle for long.