Cycling the Great Taste Trail on the south island of New Zealand is 159kms of rolling scenery and highlights that are hard to narrow down to just 5. But here is our attempt.
1. Abel Tasman National Park
This is New Zealand at its’ finest. Stunning coastal coves, amazing walking tracks dotted with wildlife and views that make the trek worthwhile. In summer the swimming is just divine, crystal clear water, soft sand and green mountain backdrops make this national park an absolute highlight in the Nelson region
2. Spooners Tunnel
Spooners Tunnel is the longest tunnel in the southern hemisphere open for walking or cycling, is the 5th longest tunnel open to cycling or walking in the world and is NZ’s longest decommissioned rail tunnel. It’s an eerie, cold ride and being unlit, makes you super sensitive to every sound creaking from the dug out tunnel walls. But it’s great fun, such a unique sensory experience and there are real stories surrounding the construction, which are well worth hearing (one of the benefits of doing a guided tour).
3. Bridges, rivers, scenery
OK, so it’s New Zealand so you would expect fantastic scenery. And the Great Taste trail delivers scenery in spades. But there is something about cycling over a bridge, through a tunnel, jumping on a ferry and rolling over wooded boardwalks in the middle of an estuary that is just…awesome! The variations and unique elements just keep coming on the classic cycling trail. There is even a mountain bike park that can make life interesting if you so choose! We particularly loved a number of the bridges along the trail that provided incredible views.
The Nelson region lies on the northern tip of the south island of New Zealand, and is considered a smaller wine growing region, but no less interesting. The unique weather pattern of the Nelson region lends itself to wine growing. Nelson vineyards concentrate on grape varieties suited to cooler conditions, with Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Pinot Noir accounting for most of the grapes grown. More importantly the cellar doors are just so inviting, always in a beautiful setting with gorgeous views, and fresh seafood from the nearby fish market. You can read a full list of all the wineries in the Nelson region on the Wine NZ website.
5. Maputo Ferry
On the final day of cycling the full Great Taste Trail loop, the trail actually crosses a small but rapidly running body of water at Maputo. This requires bikes and bodies to be loaded onto a small ferry for a short joy ride across the inlet. Being on the water is always fun, but the different view whilst on this fun jaunt is superb. And it’s such a fun and interesting way to break up the cycling. For us, this unique boat trip adds to the charm of cycling the Great Taste Trail and is a highlight.
See more about cycling the full length of this fantastic cycle trail in New Zealand on our Tour de Great Taste Trail.