Tasman’s Great Taste Trail
Starting at Richmond, the trail offers panoramic coastal views over Tasman Bay, Waimea Estuary, and the Western Ranges, including Mt Arthur, Mt Owen and the Crusaders.
Riders pass over boardwalks along the edge of the Waimea Estuary; home to a range of internationally significant bird species including the white heron.
From here the trail crosses to Rabbit Island, where riders can take a boat trip to Mapua wharf and enjoy cottage industry shops, cafes and restaurants. The route north-west from Mapua leads to Motueka, which hosts award winning wineries, then on to Riwaka, the gateway to the Abel Tasman National Park.
The southern section of trail passes down quiet back roads along the Motueka River’s west bank emerging into a landscape of sheltered valleys surrounded by forest and glacial mountains. At Tapawera, cyclists will then begin a 56kms ride along an abandoned railway corridor past historic tobacco drying kilns to Kohatu Junction. Riders are advised to bring a torch as moving further north, you will pass through New Zealand’s longest decommissioned Spooner rail tunnel, a gentle curve of about 1.4km emerging just south of Belgrove. The trail then passes through Wakefield and then heads back to Richmond, which rounds off the 175km.
There are currently two significant sections of Tasman’s Great Taste Trail that are ready to ride:
Rabbit Island to Mapua: From the entrance to Rabbit Island (30km west of Nelson) follow an easy cycle trail to the western end of the island. From there you can catch the Flat Bottom Fairy across to the village of Mapua, which has a range of shops to buy food from. After refuelling, catch the ferry back to Rabbit Island and cycle back to the start.
Nelson to Richmond: Fourteen kilometres of easy cycle trail between Nelson and Richmond is open and ready to ride. It provides a pleasant half-day ride.
A rail trail starts from the small park on the corner of Saint Vincent St and Totara St, 2km southwest of the Nelson i-Site. After another 2km you will ride onto Beatson Road and down to another cycle trail beside Whakatu Drive. You pass Nelson Airport and will now be on the Tasman’s official Great Taste Trail Loop Trail. Carefully follow the cycle trail signs down to the Coastal Route to Richmond. From Lower Queen Street in Richmond the path continues another 1.4 km to the Appleby Highway overbridge. It will be extended to Brightwater by the end of 2011.
Note: At busy traffic times the crossing of Lower Queen Street on a bike is not safe. It is best to ride to the traffic lights, hop off your bike and cross as a pedestrian.