Strong cyclist numbers on the Tasman Great Taste Trail

The Great Taste Trail: Mapua foreshore.

The Great Taste Trail: Mapua foreshore.

Almost 10,000 people got on their bikes and out on the Great Taste Trail between Christmas and New Year. 

Nelson Tasman Cycle Trail Trust's Elizabeth Bean said they'd recorded 9300 cyclists on the Great Taste Trail on the 11-day holiday period between Christmas Eve and the start of January.

She said a survey completed across January revealed 38 per cent of trail users had been from outside the region, up from four years ago when non-local users came in at just 20 per cent. 

A cyclist bikes along the Tasman Great Taste Trail, past a vineyard near the Appleby overbridge.
Marion van Dijk

A cyclist bikes along the Tasman Great Taste Trail, past a vineyard near the Appleby overbridge.

"That makes sense because four years ago only the first bit of the trail had been built," Bean said. 

"The other thing that's helped with Nelson is there is a cluster of biking options. If you come to Nelson you'll do the Great Taste, then you might go and do a day on the Dun Mountain Trail, and then maybe a day at the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park."

She said the reopening of Spooners Tunnel in December had also proved successful with an average of 71 people per day cycling the tunnel throughout December.

Bike hire in Nelson has also kicked up a gear as visitors pedal their way around the region's hotspots. 

Trail Journeys Nelson's Andrew Schwass said the company had seen significant growth this summer, as large numbers of tourists hired bikes to explore the Great Taste Trail.

"I think this year we've been well up over a hundred percent [on last year]," Schwass said.

He said the recently-opened Nelson depot had been very popular and had provided another rental spot alongside Mapua and Kaiteriteri.

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"We've started the trail hopper transport system so that's allowing people to do anything they want with bikes and get transport back from anywhere," he said.

Schwass said a lot of customers had opted to ride one-way from Nelson to Mapua and get the hopper service back, or ride one way between Mapua and Kaiteriteri.

"We've got a new waterproof map and they get that on the handlebars," he said.

"It shows them all the pubs, craft breweries, wineries, and attractions along the way... and it feeds off to accommodation for those who do multi-day tours."

Luama Burke at Jester House near Mapua said records for the last few months revealed they had been busier than last summer.

"Definitely through December and January we're much busier [than other times of year], but that hasn't stopped in the last week either," Burke said.

"We've had a lot of cyclists coming through... even today [Tuesday] we have three or four groups in for morning tea who were all cyclists."

Burke said without the cycle trail on their doorstep, cafe staff would definitely notice a significant drop in customer numbers.

A public survey by Tasman District Council showed the number of visitors to Mapua Wharf was up 15 per cent on last summer. 

The Council surveyed cyclists and pedestrians entering and leaving the wharf on three days over the holiday period, with numbers ranging from 7985 on 15 January, up to 10,224 people on 2 January 2017.

Tasman Mayor Richard Kempthorne said numbers were up on last summer by 8 per cent, 15 per cent and 25 per cent on each of the three days surveyed.

Manager at HQ Cafe & Bar in Brightwater Holly Steyn said summer had been busy on their patch of the trail too.

"It has been pretty crazy to be honest," Steyn said.

"In saying that, we're really busy every year but I would say it has picked up [this summer]."

Steyn said it was a pretty even split between tourists and local regulars using the trail, but they'd noticed bigger groups of cyclists enjoying the trail together.

She said some cyclists used the HQ as a destination point, cycling out to get food before cycling back to Nelson, while for others it was just a pitstop along the trail.

Steyn said the cycle trail seemed to have a steady stream of cyclists on it, and even during winter people took advantage of the cooler temperatures to go out for a bike ride.


 - Stuff


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