Spooners Tunnel Update
A new section of the Great Taste Trail Rail Route, from Wakefield to Belgrove then through the Spooners Tunnel and on to Kohatu, is due to be fully completed by February/March 2019. A short section of this route (through the Spooners Tunnel) was open for cyclists last year, but this short piece of trail has until now been an isolated section, not connected to the existing Great Taste Trail Rail Route. The new development will mean that cyclists can start from Nelson and ride all the way to the tunnel, which is the longest dis-used rail tunnel in the southern hemisphere.
Here is the latest update on the progress of this trail development:
As of August 2018, the first 3.4 km leg of the section from Wakefield to Belgrove is temporarily on the side of the existing state highway. There is a small shoulder on the side of this highway. Plans are underway to move this off-road by February/March 2019. The second leg of this section consists of a new 1.6 km stretch that also runs along the side of the state highway and the highway has been widened to allow for the cycle lane. The cycle lane is separated from the road by a double white line. The third and final leg of this section to Belgrove is completed and is off-road. The route from Wakefield to Belgrove is 9.5 km and is easy riding and flat most of the way.
Upon reaching Belgrove the leg from here, through the tunnel to Norris Gully carpark was completed in 2018. It is a slow steady climb from Belgrove, following the original railway line grade. The Belgrove Tunnel is a dis-used rail tunnel 1.4 km long and is TOTALLY DARK so lights are essential. The Norris Gully carpark is located next to the state highway at the southern end of the tunnel. It is 8 km from Belgrove to this carpark.
The leg from the Norris Gully carpark to Kohatu is set to begin shortly. This section will follow the historic railway embankment most of the way to Kohatu.