This classic hike and mountain bike trip provides enjoyable wilderness adventure only minutes from Nelson.
A 15 minute trip by 4WD on a gravel road sees us meeting our helicopter for the short flight by helicopter from the Maitai Dam to Dun Saddle at 960 metres on the edge of the Mount Richmond Forest Park. (Note -Due to alterations to the access road we may fly from a different location between November 2012 and June 2013.)
From the exposed and lunar like alpine terrain of Dun Saddle, you will gain stunning views into Mount Richmond Forest Park and west to Tasman Bay. The trip then begins with a half hour hike through the curious vegetation of the mineral belt to Coppermine Saddle, site of a chromite mine in the 1860’s, where the helicopter has landed and left our dual suspension Giant Trance mountain bikes.
The trail starts off at 1.5 metres wide and then gradually opens up beneath mountain beech forest to 2 metres wide along the site of the original horse drawn railway, built to service the chromite mine in 1860. This was New Zealand’s first railway. The trail winds down toward Nelson, eventually passing through pine forest, with excellent views of Nelson and Tasman Bay, before finishing on a single track alongside the Maitai River.
Trip size – 2 – 8 people
We usually run this ride as a morning or afternoon trip. It is currently only a private trip, for small groups of individuals.
We will collect you from your accommodation near Nelson city or meet you at the Visitor Centre in town if you have your own transport, at 9.00am or 1.00pm. If you are staying outside Nelson City we can collect you but there may be an extra charge.
Depending on the size of your group, we will fly from our helicopter base or another location. Currently our access road to our normal helicopter take off point is closed because the City Council is renewing the pipeline for the main water supply to the city. This will reopen in July 2013.
The helicopter lift takes around 7 minutes, and we generally drop off a little beyond where we will collect our bikes to take in the spectacular views of the Mt Richmond Forest Park. After dropping us, the helicopter lands the bikes at Coppermine Saddle. We walk the 20 minutes or so on a rocky trail around to the bikes.
At 1000 metres (3000ft) this is very much an alpine start, and we will ride back to sea level. The trail, which has had a million dollar upgrade in the last couple of years, is actually now a loop track, taking around three to five hours from the start at sea level to 1000 metres and back to sea level. As a helibike, we will just be descending one side of the loop, riding about 15 kilometres back to the city.
The ride begins from Coppermine Saddle in open mountain tussock country on a section of the trail which is around a metre wide, with a surface which is a little rocky. Shortly the trail provides views of the ocean and Tasman Bay and the surface becomes smoother as it enters mature beech forest.
We’ll often have a break at Third House, where horses were rested on the original horse drawn mine railway in the 1860′s before the last section through native bush and pine plantation to Nelson City.
We’ll ride on trails back right back to the Visitor Centre near the middle of the city.
Depending on your ability and whether you wish to do the short hike at the beginning, the trip takes between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 hours.
Our guide will collect you from your accommodation and return you after the ride. This is included in the price if you are staying Nelson City or close by.
Note :There may be an extra charge if you are staying in the Motueka area.
We provide Giant Trance dual suspension mountain bikes, helmet and gloves. The helicopter lift is included.
We provide morning or afternoon tea.
What gear do I need? At its upper end, the trip begins in an exposed alpine area of around 1000 metres. You will need appropriate clothing for the weather conditions forecast, with wool or polypropylene underclothing and windbreaker if it is cold and windy. Running shoes or trainers are adequate footwear. We provide daypacks, bike and helmets. We also provide morning or afternoon tea appropriate to your trip (depending on your timing we can also provide a gourmet lunch). We will collect you from your accommodation.
How difficult is the ride?
The walk and ride are accessible to most people who are used to wilderness walks, and who have at least intermediate level ability on a mountain bike. The walk is an alpine hike rather than a gentle graded track, but it is not difficult. The ride has recently had considerable money and attention spent on upgrading, and while a little rocky on the first section, is not technically demanding. When the track opens out it is easily ridden by all riders. The ride is graded a one in terms of difficulty out of a possible six, (6 being difficult). Despite the fact it is not technically difficult, experienced riders will thoroughly enjoy it as well.