Photo copyright: Dean McKenzie

Tasman's Great Taste Trail

RIDING THE TRAIL

Nelson to Wakefield, (Grade 2 Easy) 30km or Nelson to Mapua, (Grade 2 Easy) 35km

Starting from the Nelson i-SITE, follow the Railway Reserve cycle path through Nelson and Stoke. At the northern edge of Richmond, the trail splits in two. Either ride around the Waimea Estuary, across a custom-built swing bridge over the Waimea River to Rabbit Island and then by ferry to Mapua, or carry on straight ahead towards Richmond.

Mapua to Motueka, (Grade 2 Easy) 26km

From the Mapua wharf follow the signs through the back streets of Mapua, then along the coast to Ruby Bay. From here the trail heads inland with a couple of short hill-climbs and panoramic views to Lower Moutere, Motueka and Tasman Bay.

Motueka to Kaiteriteri, (Grade 2 Easy) 16km

Shortly after connecting with the coastal highway as you enter Motueka, the trail turns right on to Courtenay St. It heads out to the coast for a section before turning back inland to cross the Motueka River to Riwaka. From Riwaka it’s back towards and along the coast, with a short climb on an easy forest trail through the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park and to Kaiteriteri Beach.

Riwaka – Woodstock (Grade 3 Intermediate on Road ) 32km

This section leaves the cycle trail for a sealed back-country road along the Motueka River. After Riwaka where the trail to Kaiteriteri turns right, go straight ahead onto Factory Rd and through Brooklyn to the West Bank Rd. Follow the signs to Woodstock, crossing the Motueka River back to the main road on the third bridge. After about 300m on the main road turn left onto a side road to Woodstock.

Woodstock to Wakefield, (Grade 3 Intermediate on Road) 30km

Follow the signs to the gravel Pigeon Valley Rd to Wakefield, which goes over a 300m saddle in pine forest. It’s used by logging trucks on weekdays. Please pull over and let them pass. At Wakefield, connect back onto the cycle trial to Richmond and Nelson. Cross the main highway onto Edward St and head up a short hill to the cycle trail in front of the church. Soon after this a left turn takes you onto a trail through farmland to Brightwater on the return journey to Nelson.

Wakefield to Spooners Tunnel, (Grade 2 Easy) 19km

Spooners Tunnel can be visited as a side trip from Wakefield. South of Wakefield the route is on highway for 5.2km to Wai-iti and then is back to off-road trail. It goes alongside the Wai-iti River and pastoral countryside, then plantation forestry following the old railway line to the 1.4km long Spooners Tunnel. The tunnel is not lit so a torch is required; you will also need a warm clothing layer. Spooners Tunnel is NZ’s longest decommissioned rail tunnel, the 5th longest tunnel open to cycling and walking in the world, and the longest in the southern hemisphere.
From Spooners Tunnel you can continue on the main road for 30km to Kohatu, Tapawera and Woodstock, or retrace your route back through the tunnel.

Alongside the trail

Smack bang in the middle of nowhere is Spooners Tunnel, New Zealand’s longest unused rail tunnel. Construction began in 1873 of a railway line to connect Nelson to the rest of the South Island. Teams of men worked three shifts with picks and shovels to dig Spooners Tunnel; many workers were Chinese, Japanese and Italian immigrants. Although the Tunnel was completed in 1893, it took another three years of financial problems and track construction before the first train went through.

The tunnel provided an important connection from Nelson through to Golden Downs. Several sections were added over the next years, but construction was hampered by economic recession and doubts about the long-term viability of the line. Development of road travel reduced railway use for freight and public transport.

After 1931 the railway line was under constant threat of closure. The dream of linking Nelson to the main trunk line and the rest of the South Island was never realised and the line became known as the ‘railway to nowhere’.
Trains used the line and Spooner Tunnel until services stopped in 1955. The line was dismantled amongst fierce public protest. One of the protestors was pioneering trade unionist, politician and feminist Sonja Davies. Their decision to sit on the tracks at Kiwi Station at Tapawera for a week ended with nine women, including Davies defying an oncoming locomotive and being arrested.

The rail link had run for 79 years and remains an important part of Nelson’s history.

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 road, air or sea.

By Road

Many visitors drive to Nelson as part of a South Island tour. Good roads connect Nelson to the West Coast via the Kahurangi National Park, to Blenheim and to Christchurch via the Lewis Pass. Whether you travel to Nelson through Murchison or follow the Kaikoura coast you will see some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Nelson Tasman region is well serviced by coaches operating into and around the region.

Driving distances and times

Blenheim to Nelson (117 km) 1 hr 45 mins
Picton to Nelson (144 km) 2 hrs
Westport to Nelson (266 km) 3 hrs 15 mins
Christchurch to Nelson (424 km) 6 hrs

By Air

Nelson airport is the fourth busiest commercial airport in New Zealand, and flights operate from 6 am to 10pm pm daily with more than 66 arrivals and departures to and from Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

In addition, there are scheduled flights on light aircraft between Nelson and Paraparaumu and between Takaka and Wellington, Palmerston North and Karamea

By Sea

Regular Cook Strait ferries provide vehicle and passenger access between Wellington in the North Island and Picton in the South Island. The two primary ferry companies are the Interislander and Bluebridge. Regular coach services connect Nelson and the inter-island ferry services at Picton.

Visitor Information

Trail Partner

Inspiration, News and Updates

Backcountry mountain biking allows people to enjoy the technical challenges of riding while seeing large areas of New Zealand’s backcountry in a shorter time span. Every trip into the backcountry has an inherent degree of risk, which can be easily reduced through careful planning and good decision making. It doesn’...

 

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MBIE is pleased to advise of the opening of round seven of the Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund (MGR), and is now calling for applications to the fund. The opening of the round was announced today by the Associate Minister of Tourism, Hon Nicky Wagner. The closing date for round seven applications is 5p...
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APPLICATIONS FOR THIS POSITION HAVE NOW CLOSED.   Project Manager / Trail Manager Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust Contract opportunity 20-30 hours per week Flexibility to manage your own working hours Optimise cycle trail opportunities in the region Work with a highly committed and energeti...

 

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TRAIL SAFETY UPDATE: Tasman's Great Taste Trail DATE: 6 May 2017 ISSUE: Duck Hunting Season - Part Trail Closure Please note the trail will be closed between Ravensdown on Lower Queen Street to Lansdowne Road from midnight to 10am, and 4pm to midnight on Saturday 6 May 2017. Closure is for only these times on...

 

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TRAIL SAFETY UPDATE: Tasman's Great Taste Trail DATE: 13 April 2017 The trail is currently closed at the Waimea bridge between Lower Queen street and Rabbit Island due to flooding. The trail is also closed between Wai-iti Domain and Quail Valley Road at Belgrove due to flooding. Flooding west on Riwaka bes...

 

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TRAIL SAFETY UPDATE: Tasman's Great Taste Trail DATE: 7 December 2016 ISSUE: Spooners Tunnel is Open for riders We're thrilled to inform riders the Spooners Tunnel is once again open for all to enjoy. Just in time for the Christmas holidays :-)...

 

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A routine geotechnical has identified some maintenance issues on the northern portal of Spooners Tunnel. The tunnel is therefore closed for repair work. The maintenance team are working hard to get the tunnel open for early November. Details for riding the sections of Tasman’s Great Taste Trail can be found her...

 

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A routine geotechnical has identified some maintenance issues on the northern portal of Spooners Tunnel. The tunnel is therefore closed for repair work. The maintenance team are working hard to get it open for the school holidays (23 September), but it may not be open until the end of September. Details for ridi...

 

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Please note the Spooners Tunnel along Tasman's Great Taste Trail is temporarily closed for structural repairs and maintenance. We will provide updates when available, however the work is expected to take about one month....

 

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TRAIL SAFETY UPDATE: SPOONERS TUNNEL TEMPORARY CLOSURE Please note The Spooners Tunnel section of Tasman's Great Taste Trail is currently closed due to inspection and maintenance requirements. We will provide an update to this closure once a further assessment has been carried out. Many thanks....

 

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The Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust has been awarded the Overall Winner for Tasman in the 2016 Trustpower Nelson Tasman Community Awards. The community awards, held in Nelson, celebrated 270 million volunteer hours from across the country with the help of this year's nine other category winners, runners-up, final...

 

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Duck Hunting season starts this weekend! A section of Tasman's Great Taste Trail will be closed for one day on Saturday 7 May 2016 for the first day of the game bird hunting season. Between midnight and 10am and between 4pm and midnight the trail will be closed from Ravensdown on Lower Queen Street through to La...

 

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This Sunday 17 April, Spooners Tunnel will become the newest section of the Tasman's Great Taste Trail to be unveiled. A railway tunnel left unused for 60 years opened up to cyclists and walkers to enjoy. At 1.35km, it will be the Southern Hemisphere's longest tunnel used exclusively by cyclists and walkers. It'...

 

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TRAIL STATUS UPDATE: Tasman's Great Taste Trail DATE: 25 March 2016 We are pleased to advise the trail is now open. Please ride carefully as contractors remain carrying out flood repairs. Thank you. ...

 

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TRAIL SAFETY UPDATE: Tasman's Great Taste Trail DATE: 24 March 2016 ISSUE: Flooding Please note the trail is closed at the north of Riwaka due to flooding. We will provide further updates when possible. Waimea River bridge section is closed, and Lower Queen Street to Rabbit Island. ...

 

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CYCLE TRAIL SAFETY UPDATE: CYCLE TRAIL CLOSURE NOTICE - 18 February 2016 The Cycle Trail from Richmond to Brightwater, and Richmond to Mapua is closed due to damage on the trail from the severe weather in Nelson yesterday. Notice will be given once the trail has been cleared. Please note the MAPUA FERRY is...

 

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Richard Kempthorne
Enjoy leisurely riding through stunning scenery - from boardwalks around the Waimea Estuary, through forested trails on Rabbit Island to a ferry ride to a delicious lunch in Mapua - it's all here on the Great Taste Trail! RICHARD KEMPTHORNE – Mayor of Tasman