Brook St Entrance — Maitai Entrance (4-6 hours, 38km)
This exciting one-day mountain trail from Nelson climbs to a height of 878m on Dun Mountain along New Zealand’s first railway line before descending back down to Nelson.
The Dun Mountain rises to 1129m and due to its unique geology, is one of the most distinctive mountains around Nelson.
Early sections give glimpses of the Waimea Plains to the south and west. More extensive views extend back across Nelson and beyond to Tasman Bay and Abel Tasman National Park.
Third House is a good place to pause for a break and is an opportunity to listen to bellbirds or be entertained by ever inquisitive weka.
The trail’s emergence onto the mountain tops near Windy Point and Coppermine Saddle offers stunning views of Tasman Bay, followed by one of New Zealand’s longest mountain bike downhills.
Although the ride time may only take 4-6 hours, it is recommended you allow a full day to enjoy this unique environment.
One of the most accessible back-country alpine cycle trails in the country, it requires a good fitness level and all riders should be competent mountain bikers.
NELSON’S ART AND CRAFT
Arts and Crafts are celebrated in Nelson and add to the city’s creative character and energy. There are frequent exhibitions of original artwork, and galleries and workshops to visit.
Nelson is known for its locally grown ingredients, fine wines and craft beers, and is famous for its seafood. Sample the local delights and be sure to try the catch of the day, fresh off the boat.
Part of the first section of the Dun Mountain Trail, this bike park has a variety of tracks ranging from wide, flat beginner tracks to extreme downhill trails for the experts.
RIDING THE TRAIL
BROOK ST ENTRANCE TO THIRD HOUSE, (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 11.3KM
The trail follows the original railway alignment through the Codgers Trails to reach native forest in a couple of gullies before reaching Bullock Spur.
The alignment continues through regenerating forest to Cummins Spur Crossing (Four Corners).
From here the trail continues at a pleasant gradient through mature beech forest, eventually reaching the site of Third House at 660m.
THIRD HOUSE TO COPPERMINE SADDLE, (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 6KM
This trail continues to Junction Saddle where the old railway alignment joins the main ridge.
Beyond Junction Saddle the trail continues to climb steadily through stunning beech forest all the way to the site of Fourth House.
Soon after Coads Creek is crossed a sudden change in vegetation from mature forest to the stunted manuka and shrubland of the ‘mineral belt’ occurs. This type of infertile, distinctly coloured landform belt is also found in Otago.
The single track takes you all the way from here to Coppermine Saddle (878m) for some great views of the Richmond Range down to the Maitai Valley.
COPPERMINE SADDLE TO MAITAI DAM, (GRADE 4 ADVANCED) 9.3KM
From here the descent to the Maitai Dam is the most technical part of the ride. There are great switchbacks and some sections are loose and rocky.
The landscape is amazing and the scenery breathtaking. The lower section is steep as you descend into Sclanders Creek then over the new Maitai River south branch bridge and on to the Maitai Dam.
Along the journey are several well researched and beautifully presented interpretive panels that capture the human and natural history.
MAITAI DAM TO SMITHS FORD, (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 3.8KM
From the dam, the trail runs alongside the Nelson water pipeline and down a cruisy downhill to come out at Smith Ford Bridge further down the valley.
SMITHS FORD TO MAITAI ENTRANCE, (GRADE 3 INTERMEDIATE) 3.1KM
From Smiths Ford the route continues on the road to the Maitai Motor Camp, then it is either a road ride back to Nelson via the Maitai Valley Rd or you can follow the Maitai Valley Walkway down to Nile St and Nelson City.
COMPLETING THE CIRCUIT
If you want to complete the circuit back to Brook St you can either head back into town and back up Brook St, or head over the Groom Creek trail behind Maitai Motor Camp.
On the left, just past the camp entrance, go over the bridge, over the gate and follow the fire road climbing back to Tantagee Saddle, then down to Brook St.
PLEASE NOTE: You have the option of starting the trail at the Maitai Entrance instead of Brook Street in order to get all of the climbing done first.
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, by air, or by sea.
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
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
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.
- Nelson Tasman Marlborough i-SITE
- Tourism website for the Nelson/Tasman Region
- Heart of Biking Nelson/Tasman
You will be a long way from assistance, and mobile phone reception is patchy, so please ensure you have sufficient food, drink, spare tubes and wet-weather gear to handle any problems you might encounter.
MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: Mobile phone coverage is patchy along the trail.
DRINKING WATER: Ensure you take enough drinking water (and food) to last you the entire trail.
NOTE: Check the Dun Mountain Trail website for any damage or closures before you go.