Tasman’s Great Taste Trail is part of The New Zealand Cycle Trail Network, and will eventually cover a distance of about 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 from the rural Village of Tapawera via Nelson to Kaiteriteri near the Abel Tasman National Park. The trail travels through rural farmland, pine forest and a classic heritage landscape dotted with vineyards, apple orchards and market gardens, before reaching the Tasman Bay coastline near Richmond.
Here, it follows the coastline around the Waimea Estuary to Rabbit Island, a reserve with recreation areas and pine forest, to the old Mapua Wharf, and its boutique shops, cafes and brewery. The final leg across to the wharf and Mapua Village from the island is across the estuary by a foot and bike ferry. Clients can stop for a swim on the expansive Rabbit Island beach.
From Mapua the trail wanders through low foothills to the town of Motueka, before following the coastline through Riwaka to the seaside village of Kaiteriteri, one of the main access points for the Abel Tasman National Park.
The Great Taste Trail has some special tasting experiences, including wineries, craft breweries, little cafes, fresh seafood, fruit and pick-your-own berries during the summer months.
Simply Wild Journeys have been running guided mountain biking and cycling trips in Nelson since 2006, and the trail is a key part of many of our private trips. We offer a range of options for clients who wish to enjoy the easy riding on the trail in part or in full, with either a fully guided or just supported private trip.
Day One – Tapawera to Rabbit Island Huts – 60 Kilometres
We collect you from your accommodation around 9.00am, and drive you 60 kilometres south to Tapawera. Here you begin the rural and forestry ride through to Wakefield, Richmond and your overnight destination of the Rabbit Island Huts, Appleby House or the luxury Lodge Te Koi.
The Trail has now reached the little rural town of Tapawera, near the edge of Kahurangi National Park. It’s a short ride from where the trail currently ends at Tapawera to Kohatu. The trail then follows the old railway bed to the Spooners Tunnel. 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, the trail veers right before the Hoult Valley Road Bridge, and follows the purpose-built trail along the river for 4 km to Pigeon Valley Road and the charming Village of Wakefield.
From Wakefield, the trail heads along Edwards Street and up a small hill past the historic St John’s Church built in 1846. A few hundred meters down the hill and through the gate, the trail brings you through stands of native bush and rolling farmland through to the underpass at Brightwater. The Lord Rutherford Memorial displays the history of one of New Zealand’s greatest scientists, most famous for leading the team to first to split the atom. The trail carries on through Brightwater Village before travelling along the Waimea Plains, crossing the Waimea River on a purpose-built cycle bridge. You cruise through the Waimea Estates vineyards, then the trail re-joins the railway reserve route through to Richmond.
Just out of Richmond, the trail passes an industrial area and Nelson Pine Industries’ plant. It takes in coastal pathways and board walks around the beautiful, and ecologically significant Waimea Inlet. The Inlet is the largest enclosed estuary in the South Island and home to a wide range of wading and sea birds. These include the bar-tailed godwit, white heron, royal spoonbill, little egret, Australasian bittern, and banded rail. At the end of the inlet the trail turns left onto Best Island Rd before joining Lower Queen St, and heading across the Waimea River suspension bridge built just for bikes. Just before crossing to the Rabbit Island Reserve, you turn left and travel about 400 metres to the luxury glamping Rabbit Island huts, Appleby House or luxury Lodge Te Koi near Mapua where you spend the night.
Day Two – Rabbit Island to Kaiteriteri – 52 Kilometres
From Rabbit Island we ride through pine forest and out onto the expansive beach front, and towards the Mapua Ferry. Rabbit Island is a popular recreation area with a wonderful beach for swimming and many picnic spots. The trail runs parallel to the beach front and through the forest to the northwest corner of the island. Here, the Mapua Ferry transfers cyclists to the seaside village of Mapua and the Mapua Wharf precinct. The ferry leaves Rabbit Island for Mapua at 10 minutes past the hour from 9.10 am during the summer. This is a great stop for a morning coffee, with several cafes at the wharf.
The next section of the cycle trail winds through the backways, up and over a few hills, past fruit orchards and hop gardens into the town of Motueka. Heading away from Mapua the trail follows narrow lanes and paths in the village, and out along the coast until it crosses Stafford Road. Here the trail heads up the tranquil Pine Hill Road, winding along apple orchards, vineyards, working artist studios and galleries and on to Tasman village.
A purpose-built underpass crosses State Highway 60 before the longest climb of the trail. On a typical Nelson summer day the sea breeze helps to push you up Harleys Road before taking on the final climb up Tasman View Road. At the top your effort is rewarded with amazing 360° views taking in Tasman Bay and the Arthur Range. The descent is a little steep and a bit rough in places to the Riverside Community settlement nestled at the bottom of the hill. From here the trail is flat and runs alongside the road. Toad Hall café and craft brewery mark the start of the Motueka township and is a great spot for lunch.
The final section through to Kaiteriteri starts 1km south of central Motueka on Old Wharf Road. The Trail follows Old Wharf Road out to the coast before turning left onto Motueka Quay. Riders pass the shipwrecked Janie Seddon, and spectacular coastal scenery and wildlife. The esplanade reserve is renowned by birders as an internationally significant place for estuary and sea birds including the majestic Kotuku. A right turn takes you onto Lyndhurst Drive, over the Motueka River bridge, then right onto Lodder Lane and the small settlement of Riwaka.
The trail goes through the Riwaka domain, continuing alongside State Highway 60 before taking a right turn onto Goodall Road through apple and kiwifruit orchards and over another bike-friendly suspension bridge. It then follows the coastline next to the road into Kaiteriteri, passing the Puketawai monument, a site of important local history. Shortly after an underpass you enter the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park and the Easy Rider trail. This part of the trail steps up a grade with a few steeper pinches, tighter corners and narrower trail in places. Exiting Easy Rider it’s just a short ride down to the glorious golden sands of Kaiteriteri beach. At the finish of the ride we transfer you to your overnight accommodation, back to Nelson, or the airport. Alternatively you may wish to continue on to the Abel Tasman National Park and enjoy the experiences we offer in this seemingly tropical paradise.
We can provide special trail style bikes (more upright and comfortable for this type of trail), traditional mountain bikes or electric bikes.
Simply Wild Great Taste Trail trips are private trips. We have two categories of trip:
Fully guided – You have a friendly & experienced guide all the way. We supply transport to and from the ride, ferry fares, bikes, helmets, and a delightful picnic lunch.
Self guided and supported – We take you to the beginning of the ride, provide ferry fares, bikes, helmets, gloves and a delightful picnic lunch. We also supply a cellphone should you need to call us during the ride, or at the end of your ride to collect you, along with a map of the ride and nearby attractions.
All our trips are customisable to suit your needs and interests, and you can add extra days in Abel Tasman or Kahurangi National Park.
Guide, driver and vehicle
Bikes and helmets
A delightful picnic lunch from our café if you prefer
Ferry fares – Rabbit Island to Mapua
Cellphone for supported, self guided riding