St James Cycle Trail


Maling Car Park to Waiau 4WD Road End, (Grade 3 Intermediate) 12km

From the car park, the trail follows the 4WD track. Gently gaining altitude at first, the trail soon steadily climbs towards Maling Pass, the high point of the trail (1308m).

From the pass, the trail descends steeply through alpine meadows and mountain beech forest into the Waiau Valley, crossing bubbling streams along the way.

Once on the valley floor the trail levels out and follows the true-left side of the river to the road end.

Note: The descent from Maling Pass is steep and the surface loose – control your speed and take special care when negotiating the numerous drainage ditches that cross the track.

Waiau 4WD Road End to Saddle Spur Bridge, (Grade 3 Intermediate) 15.5km

The first third of this section is a purpose-built cycle track. From the road end, the trail traverses the hillside on the left of the Waiau River, before emerging onto the wide river terraces at the junction with the Lake Guyon track. The 10min detour to this picturesque lake is well worth the time and effort.

The trail then follows old stock and farm tracks that meander down the Waiau Valley over the grassy river flats, passing by Little Lake and Muddy Lakes before arriving at the spectacular Saddle Spur Bridge.

Saddle Spur Bridge to Scotties Hut, (Grade 4 Advanced) 14.5km

This is the most challenging section on the trail, with rocky and uneven parts and hard climbs, tricky descents and a giant matagouri forest to negotiate.

Once over Saddle Spur Bridge, the trail climbs over the demanding Saddle Spur to reach Pool Hut. The trail then crosses the McArthur Bridge before climbing steeply to Charlie’s Saddle.

After a winding descent, the trail crosses the Edwards River Bridge to arrive at Scotties Hut.

Note: Sections of the trail after Saddle Spur and after McArthur Bridge are very narrow and pass steep drop-offs. We recommended you walk these sections.

Scotties Hut to St James Homestead, (Grades 2-3, Easy to Intermediate) 17km

Follow the 4WD track up the Edwards Valley. The trail is mostly easy going, interrupted by short stretches of rocky riverbed and unbridged streams.

The climb up to Peters Pass is the last big effort on the trail – here the trail leaves the 4WD track, taking an easy downhill run through the beautiful Peters Valley to the St James Homestead and the end of the trail.

At the homestead there are numerous protected historic farm buildings dating back to the 1880s that give a glimpse into the past glories of this high country station.The woolshed in particular deserves exploring.

Homestead Run, (Grade 1 Easiest) 15km

From the St James Homestead, ride up the beautiful Peters Valley to Peters Pass where a great picnic spot overlooks Waterfall Stream.

Follow the trail until it intersects with the Edwards Valley 4WD track. Head east (right) down the 4WD track to connect with Tophouse Rd, then ride 3km down the valley to the homestead.

Getting There

The St James Cycle Trail is located near Hanmer Springs in North Canterbury.

The nearest airport to Hanmer Springs is a 90 minute drive away in Christchurch. You can drive or catch a bus from Christchurch - if driving, take SH1, SH7 and SH7A to get to Hanmer Springs.

Offering a full range of quality accommodation and cafés, Hanmer Springs is an ideal location from which to base your St James Cycle Trail experience. After your ride, the village’s famous thermal pools and massage therapists are a treat for weary legs.

From Hanmer Springs take Clarence Valley Road over Jacks Pass to connect with Tophouse Road (13 km from Hanmer Springs).

This road follows the eastern boundary of St James Conservation Area as far as Lake Tennyson. The St James Cycle Trail starts and finishes on the Tophouse Road.

There is no regular public transport from Hanmer Springs village to the St James Cycle Trail. A charter service from the village to the trail is offered 7 days a week by Hanmer Adventures.


These are backcountry gravel roads suitable for 2WD vehicles. Constant care must be taken and do not exceed 50 kph. There are narrow sections, blind corners and dust from other vehicles, which can severely reduce visibility.

Be prepared to encounter cyclists and horse-riders at any time.

Visitor Information

Trail Partner

Inspiration, News and Updates

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‘Social licence’. You’ll have heard the term and have an idea what it means. But exactly what does it look like in the context of the New Zealand Cycle Trail? Cycle Journeys’ Geoff Gabites provides some perspective. When did you first come across ‘social licence’ and what does it mean to you? The week...
TRAIL STATUS UPDATE: St James Cycle Trail DATE: 7 November  2017 ISSUE: The St James Cycle Trail is now open. Please note contractors will be repairing sections of the trail during the month of November, and there is still some seasonal damage. We ask riders to cycle with the utmost care. Thank you....


TRAIL STATUS UPDATE: St James Cycle Trail DATE: 11 October 2017   ISSUE: Flooding affecting St James Conservation Area Recent flooding of the Clarence River has caused major erosion and collaspe of numerous sections of Tophouse Road. Access is still open via Clarence Valley Road to Tophouse Road (...


Kate Wilkinson, former Minister of Conservation
The St James Trail is a real tourism asset and I have no doubt it will draw thousands of cyclists a year. The landscape is stunning. KATE WILKINSON – Former Minister of Conservation