Tasman’s Great Taste Trail is part of The New Zealand Cycle Trail Network, and will eventually cover a distance of 162 – 175 kilometres around the Nelson region offering easy, family friendly touring through a variety of landscapes. The first sections of trail are complete and run largely off road between the Village of Tapawera south of Nelson in a rural area near Kahurangi National Park, and Kaiteriteri near the Abel Tasman National Park.
This delightful ride on a well built trail travels through rural and forestry landscapes, a heritage train tunnel, and the village of Wakefield. The trail also crosses the Waimea Plains, dotted with vineyards, apple orchards and market gardens, before reaching the Tasman Bay coastline near Richmond. It then follows the coastline around the Waimea Estuary to Rabbit Island reserve, with recreation areas and pine forest, to the old Mapua wharf with its boutique shops, cafes and brewery. The final leg across to the wharf and Mapua Village from the island is across the estuary by foot and bike ferry.
Abel Tasman National Park might be New Zealand’s smallest, but it’s arguably the most beautiful. Managing to pack into its 342 square kilometres there’s a delightful array of activities and sightseeing bounty. From the country’s most popular and stunning coastal track through pristine native bush, to sparkling tidal inlets dotted with limestone islands. The water is breathtakingly clear, with startling 24-carat golden sandy beaches.
With Simply Wild Journeys you can discover some of the best the Abel Tasman has to offer with two privately guided unforgettable days cycling and hiking, staying overnight at Awaroa Lodge, in the heart of Abel Tasman National Park.
Cycling on the Great Taste Trail.
As with all our trips we customise the day to suit you, choosing parts of the trail depending on fitness and interests. We often begin cycling at the Spooners Tunnel, about 45 minutes south of Nelson. The 1.4km long rail tunnel is the longest decommissioned tunnel in the Southern Hemisphere. The railway line was closed in 1955, against major protests at the time.
From the tunnel exit, a pleasant 5km descent brings you to Belgrove and the historic railway windmill, one of only two left in New Zealand. From Belgrove the trail follows a path next to the road until Quail Valley Road, then off road along the banks of the Wai-iti River, past Ewings free-range poultry farm, and through native bush to the Wai-iti Domain. From here the trail follows State Highway 6 for approximately 1.5 km before turning off at Hoult Valley Road.
After 400m, you veer right before the Hoult Valley Road Bridge and follow the purpose-built trail along the river for 4 km to Pigeon Valley Road to the Village of Wakefield. At Wakefield we pack the bikes on our trailer and drive 20 minutes to Rabbit Island. Here we rejoin the trail to cycle along the coastline of this recreational/forest area to the dedicated bike ferry, and across to the coastal village of Mapua.
Mapua wharf is a great spot for lunch with a number of Cafes and restaurants, or we’ll provide a platter lunch at nearby Neudorf Vineyard. If you are keen to ride further, we travel across to Riwaka for the short coastal ride through to Kaiteriteri, one of two main points to access Abel Tasman National Park. We can provide special trail style bikes (more upright and comfortable), E bikes or traditional mountain bikes.
At Kaiteriteri we’ll transport you by private water taxi along the park coastline to your accommodation at Awaroa Lodge Resort, located in the heart of Abel Tasman National Park. Offering peace and tranquility, the Lodge is accessible only by water or air and is situated alongside the Abel Tasman Coastal Track. Accommodation is carefully crafted to complement the environment while placing you amongst it.
Hiking on the Abel Tasman Track.
The Abel Tasman National Park is the smallest jewel in the crown of New Zealand’s national park network. Measuring 22,500 hectares, it reflects a unique identity among the much larger, more mountainous parks. It encompasses kilometres of idyllic golden sand beaches washed by the tidal flows of Tasman Bay. Linked by an easy walking track of exceptional standard, it alternates with hidden coves, estuaries and spectacular granite outcrops. Offshore lie numerous islands punctuating the broad sweep of Tasman Bay, providing sanctuary for seabirds, seals and penguins.
Looking down toward the sea, you see the brilliant turquoise water and golden sand set against luxuriant forest and tree fern, reminiscent of an island paradise. Looking inland however, the park presents a different profile, with dense forested hills rising steeply to 800 – 1100 metres, drained by rugged watersheds which fall to the coast through deep gorges and impassable waterfalls. The park has an interesting history, with Maori settlement, Dutch and French explorers, before being settled by English settlers in the 1850’s.
Today you’ll head back toward the beginning of the park, leaving from the Lodge and hiking the 24 kilometres through the heart of the Abel Tasman. The track traverses Onetahuti, Bark Bay and Torrent Bay to Anchorage over 5 to 6 hours, enjoying the best of Abel Tasman. Nearing Anchorage we call for our private water taxi to collect us, and return to Kaiteriteri where we deliver you to your accommodation or onward travel.