Besides having the best weather in New Zealand, Nelson is a fantastic place to ride your bike – be it road of mountain. From my wife’s Bed & Breakfast I can turn left and have a great 50 km road time trial course, or turn right and ride the Moutere hills, or Takaka hill. There are also some great mountain biking routes and this weekend I was fortunate to ride two of them: the Kaiterere Mountain Bike Park and a helicopter bike trip to Coppermine Saddle on the Dun trail in the Richmond Range behind Nelson.
Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park is about a 30 min drive from the B&B and located behind Kaiteriteri Beach. It has a series of trails ranging from beginner through advanced which traverse some great forested areas and with native bush.
The riding is great with lots of technical challenges – and that was without even trying the advanced trails! For someone like myself with weak technical skills it is just what I need. Particularly all those hairy 180 degree bends – and there was even a 270 degree turn. Someone had real fun in designing the course.
We are very fortunate that people are willing to put so much effort into the trail maintenance since they were in such good condition. It took me an hour to reach the far side of the park and the top of the ‘Corkscrew Trail’ (well named) which at some 250 m ASL offered fantastic views of Kaiteriteri Beach. It was here that I encountered the only other riders – probably because I was out on a Friday. I’ve got a map now and that will allow me to explore the park more systematically.
On the Sunday I joined the Nelson MTB club for the helicopter trip. We parked on the road below the Maitai Dam and I road the Dun trail up to the dam keeper’s cottage where we were assembling to start the trip.
They had a cage which they put the bikes into. This was then connected to cables and lifted by the helicopter.
The copter flight was very short – only about 3 minutes. Hard to believe that would take about 2+ hours to ride. Took the video below with my phone.
There were two options to ride from the saddle. The Dun Mountain Route took us back to the Maitai Dam so that was where I was going to head. Option B goes to Nelson. It would make a good 6+ h circuit so must try that sometime in the future. In the distance they pointed out trails and overnight routes heading deep into the Richmond Range. Oh to have time in N.Z. to explore these areas …
The Dun trail was brilliant. We were rewarded with amazing vistas of the mountains in the distance and having perfect weather made things even better. While the trail was quite easy to ride at the start, as it wound its way down the mountain it became fairly challenging with lots of moderate stones to navigate over/through/around. I was glad that I had a suspension bike!
Eventually we hit the forest which was a magic ride through the best of New Zealand bush. I passed a few people heading up. They had to do a lot more work than I did! My biggest challenge was hanging onto my breaks for 1.5 hours!
What a great day. I’m definitely a helicopter mountain biking enthusiast. Not because it is the lazy way for some great downhill but just a fantastic overall experience. Let’s hope they do this more often – and I’m in the country.