Bike trail is Nelson's big day out

ELIZABETH BEAN
Last updated 12:59 11/02/2014
Andrew Schwass
ALDEN WILLIAMS/FAIRFAX NZ

ON THE TRAIL: The sun goes down over Tasman's Great Taste Trail.

Andrew Schwass
JAMES GREENLAND/FAIRFAX NZ
THE EASY WAY: Andrew Schwass with The Mapua Ferry. Rabbit Island is in the background.

Great Taste Trail: Kaiteriteri to Nelson

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Two-wheeled adventures on the Great Taste Trail

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The cheapest tickets for January's Big Day Out in Auckland were $165. Being over 35 years old means I might not want to spend anything like that to listen to Snoop Dog and Clap Clap Riot.

For much less I can have my own BDO in Nelson for, by my calculation, $43. This is how much it costs to have a day in the sun with a great line-up of favourites with my friends.

Unlike Auckland's BDO, the local one has no crowds of people, no traffic snarls and no long loo and bar queues. Our local BDO also has plenty of places to eat and drink.

I have been following Tasman's Great Taste Trail progress with interest. This trail is for cyclists and when complete will be a 175km loop ride. Building a cycle trail is expensive, which is why ours is being done in stages and, so far, just over half the trail is built.

You can get from Nelson to Kaiteriteri using mostly off-road track and this is how I got my BDO for $43. Note this "track" is well-formed and is easy riding. It is suitable for beginner cyclists and families, as well as cycle enthusiasts.

First up, catch the Abel Tasman Sea Shuttle ferry from Nelson to Kaiteriteri. The trip is about an hour and arrives at the golden-sanded Kaiteriteri Beach just after 9. This takes $35 from your budget.

A perfect time for a coffee at a café perhaps, or else hop on to your bike and head for the Easy Rider track at the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park. Then follow a Grade 2 trail into Riwaka, being sure to admire the new bridge over the Riwaka River and boardwalks that take cyclists off-road.

Distractions in Riwaka include the Hop Federation Brewery. If it is a bit early for beer, head for Ginger Dynamite, a cafe with great coffee and food.

Back on your bike, continue to Motueka following the Raumanuka Reserve, a beautiful off-road stretch along the estuary with expansive views of Tasman Bay. At Motueka, the Sprig and Fern and Toad Hall provide good excuses to stop.

The trail is not called "Great Taste" for no reason. Your BDO could become an overnight expedition if you get too side-tracked with the abundant eating and drinking opportunities. But that isn't a problem, as accommodation options abound.

As you ride, watch out for Tasman's Great Taste Trail icons as these mark the trail and also indicate businesses that are financially supporting the Trail.

Motueka to Mapua is a 22km stretch following Ruby Bay, Tasman View Road and the waterfront into Mapua. At Mapua you are over halfway by distance and this is a good place to stop and contemplate life.

A plethora of eating options exist; my favourites are Hamish's Ice-cream parlour (with more than 20 flavours) and the Golden Bear Brewery.

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Grab something and then sit and watch boats and people enjoying the sea.

The channel between Mapua and Rabbit Island is a 10 minute crossing on the Mapua Ferry and takes another $8 from your budget. Then it is a ride through pine forests before coming across the Rabbit Island Coffee Company, a business which has popped up to service the growing cycle market.

Next you cycle beside the Waimea Estuary, home to internationally significant bird species including the kotuku. From here on, the eating and drinking opportunities are plentiful; it may be an effort to stay cycling and complete the BDO as you head into town, pedalling from one tempting attraction to the next.

The trail is proving to be immensely popular with locals and visitors to the region. A survey last year found that around 330 riders per day were using the coastal section between Nelson and Mapua.

Tasman's Great Taste Tail is aptly named. You are certain to have a great time and have lots of taste opportunities. So go try our local BDO; think of it as a "bite" with more to come when the Trail is complete. And listen to Clap Clap Riot on your iPod if you must.

- Nelson

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