For active travellers with limited time, this private trip combines two iconic Nelson activities in one day. The alpine landscape of the Dun Mountain trail ride and Abel Tasman’s stunning coastal waters, one of the premiere sea kayak destinations in the world.
The Dun Mountain Trail is a classic mountain bike ride. It provides enjoyable wilderness adventure only minutes from Nelson, for intermediate or advanced mountain bikers alike. Accessing the mountain by a short helicopter lift, we start the trip with a brief alpine hike to the beginning of the Dun Mountain Trail. Created from New Zealand’s first railway, and built in the 1800’s for a failed mining venture, there’s fifteen glorious downhill kilometres through native and exotic forest back to Nelson City. Simply Wild Journeys are the original operator on the trail, having offered commercial trips since 2007.
The trip suits a wide range of ages, but requires that riders are comfortable and have some experience of riding on intermediate level mountain single trails. In Abel Tasman we kayak in the beautiful heart of the Park, between Anchorage and Bark Bay.
The itinerary for the day depends on the tides in Abel Tasman. If the tide is due to be high in the morning, we’ll sea kayak in the morning. This enables us to explore some of the delightful native forest fringed estuaries. If it’s an afternoon high tide we’ll heli-bike in the morning and sea kayak in the afternoon. We’ll collect you from your accommodation and transport you to either our water taxi near Abel Tasman for the sea kayaking, or depending on which activity will be first on the day, to our helicopter base near Nelson.
If the heli-bike is first, you have the option of being picked up by helicopter from your accommodation. If it’s the second activity, you have the option of being dropped by helicopter back to your accommodation. Either option is at extra cost, dependent on where you are staying.
It is approximately 1 hours drive between the activities should you choose driving rather than flying by helicopter.
The helicopter lift to Coppermine Saddle from our heli-base takes around 7 minutes. At 1000 metres (3000ft) this is very much an alpine start, and you will ride back down to sea level. The trail, which has had a million dollar upgrade in the last few years, is actually now a loop track. It takes around three to five hours from the start at sea level, to 1000 metres, and back to sea level. As a heli-bike, we will descend 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 slightly rocky surface. Shortly the trail provides views of the ocean and Tasman Bay, and the surface becomes smoother as it enters mature beech forest.
You 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 ride on trails 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 heli-bike part of the trip usually takes between 1 1/2 and 2 1/2 hours.
For the sea kayak, we generally leave from Marahau or Kaiteriteri by private water taxi for the 20 minute scenic trip to Anchorage or Bark Bay. Here we begin the sea kayak which usually takes about 2 hours.
We will collect you from your accommodation and return you after the ride and sea kayak. As previously advised, there is an approximately one hour drive between the helicopter base and the departure point on the Abel Tasman coast for the sea kayaking. This time can be lessened by flying either one or both ways by helicopter at extra cost.
The cost includes the water taxi and sea kayaking, your Simply Wild Guide and vehicle for the day, plus snacks and lunch.
We provide dual suspension mountain bikes, helmet and gloves. The helicopter lift from our heli-base near Nelson to Coppermine Saddle is included.
What gear do I need?
At its upper end, the heli-bike 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 will collect you from your accommodation. Your biking gear is fine for sea kayaking, but you may want to bring water shoes, and a change of clothing in case you get splashed or damp during the kayak. We provide lifejackets and spray jackets.
How difficult is the ride?
The walk and ride are accessible to most people who are used to wilderness walks, and have at least intermediate level ability on a mountain bike. The walk is an alpine hike rather than a gentle graded track, but is not difficult. The trail recently received a considerable upgrade, 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 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.