Nelson Tasman’s Great Taste Trail: A journey through New Zealand’s lost tunnel

Have I entered a black gap? Apart from the little mild on my bike, I’m surrounded by darkness; the sort of heavy darkness that you just solely get when you’re deep underground.

We’re on the Spooners Tunnel, a part of Nelson Tasman’s Nice Style Path which is an intensive cycle loop taking in Nelson, Motueka, Wakefield, Richmond and Kaiteriteri. Because the identify suggests, there are many meals and wine stops on the best way.

Start a day trip on the Great Taste Trail with a ride through the 1.4km Spooners Tunnel.


Begin a day journey on the Nice Style Path with a experience by means of the 1.4km Spooners Tunnel.

The 159-kilometre experience takes three to 5 days to comfortably full, though most decide to take a day journey on a small part.

In case you are a vacationer on the town, the simplest option to experience the path is with native bike rental Kiwi Journeys. We selected the Tunnel to City by way of Mapua journey, which is a 50km experience that’s largely flat. We opted for e-bikes, which was a saviour.

* Back Your Backyard: Family-friendly cycling in New Zealand
* World Famous in New Zealand: Tasman’s Great Taste Trail
* Cycle trail to reopen with limited, guided access across Rabbit Island

Our journey begins with a 45-minute shuttle van out to Spooners Tunnel, the place we pedal by means of a fascinating little forest earlier than approaching the tunnel entrance.

The tunnel was constructed within the late 1800s as a part of an bold plan to create a rail connection between Nelson and the West Coast.

The Spooners Tunnel is the fifth-longest tunnel in the world open to walkers and cyclists.


The Spooners Tunnel is the fifth-longest tunnel on this planet open to walkers and cyclists.

Teams of 15 males at every finish labored with picks and shovels for greater than a yr to dig the tunnel. Miraculously, when the boys met within the center, they had been solely 8 millimetres out of alignment. One other crew of 20 males and two boys made 1000 concrete blocks a day for the roof of the tunnel.

The railway to the West Coast was by no means accomplished and in 1955, regardless of fierce protests, the road was formally closed. For years the tunnel was opened as soon as a month for locals to expertise however it’s now open 24/7 and has grow to be the standout attraction of the Nice Style Path.

The trail winds through the countryside, over bridges and past many small towns with bike-friendly cafes to stop at for a snack.


The path winds by means of the countryside, over bridges and previous many small cities with bike-friendly cafes to cease at for a snack.

As we enter the tunnel, you rapidly realise there is no such thing as a mild supply inside. As soon as you might be about 500 metres in, it’s full darkness. You may’t see any mild from both finish and the air feels heavy; it will be unimaginable to navigate and not using a mild. To provide you an thought of the size, it’s like driving the equal of 4 occasions the peak of Auckland’s Sky Tower in pitch black.

A glint of sunshine lastly seems, which slowly will get extra vital. The path ultimately pops out in thick native bush, as we begin the lengthy – however flat – journey in direction of the coast.

The brand new a part of the path, linking the tunnel to Nelson, is exceptionally effectively constructed, with all kinds of surroundings to get pleasure from. We go quaint small cities with bustling cafes, cross swing bridges, experience alongside the borders of an infinite free-range poultry farm, and we take quick diversions to quite a few wineries.

As soon as we attain the coast, we weave alongside a number of boardwalks, earlier than crossing farmland over to Rabbit Island.

While you can hire mountain bikes, electric bikes are a great upgrade making the trail very easy.


When you can rent mountain bikes, electrical bikes are an amazing improve making the path very simple.

The character reserve has an actual vacation environment; everyone seems to be right here to chill out or swim on the sandy seashores. We make our method across the island, following the Nice Style Path indicators – which make the journey simple to navigate – earlier than reaching a ferry crossing. It’s a five-minute boat experience off Rabbit Island over to the bustling seaside city of Mapua the place our journey ends and we return the bikes.

The Spooner Tunnel is a part of what has been referred to as the “railway to nowhere” as a result of the monitor by no means made it to the West Coast. However that identify doesn’t apply any extra, as a result of it has a brand new life; the tunnel is bound to grow to be one of the crucial standard cycle sights within the nation.

About 38km from the Spooners Tunnel, you will reach Rabbit Island which has a beautiful white sand beach.


About 38km from the Spooners Tunnel, you’ll attain Rabbit Island which has an attractive white sand seaside.

Extra data:

For routes and important data on the Nice Style Path see:

Kiwi Journeys run the Tunnel to City journey, together with transport to the beginning of the monitor and bike rent. Be sure to take choice A, which extends the journey out to Rabbit Island and Mapua. It’s $165 per individual and permit as much as 9 hours. It’s extremely beneficial to improve to an e-bike for $54, which makes the 50km journey a breeze.

A special ferry for bikes makes an easy journey from Rabbit Island back to the home of Kiwi Journeys in Mapua.


A particular ferry for bikes makes a straightforward journey from Rabbit Island again to the house of Kiwi Journeys in Mapua.

Getting there: Air New Zealand has flights to Nelson from Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland with connections throughout the home community. See:

Carbon footprint: Flying generates carbon emissions. A return journey for one passenger flying from Auckland to Nelson would generate 134kg of CO2. To offset your carbon emissions head to

The creator travelled with the assist of