Spooners Tunnel update
Updated 15 July 2019
The next section of the off-road Great Taste Trail Rail Route is nearly completed. This is the section from Wakefield to Belgrove then through the Spooners Tunnel and on to Kohatu. A short section of this route (through the Spooners Tunnel) has been open for cycling for some time, but has not been 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 off-road trail development:
Wakefield to Belgrove:
When cycling from Wakefield to Belgrove, the first 4 km leg of this section of trail is due for completion in September 2019. Until then, cyclists need to ride on side of the state highway here. There is a small shoulder on the side of this highway. The next section consists of a new 1.6 km stretch that 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 from the Wai Iti Reserve to Belgrove is completed and is off-road, following the Wai Iti River. This is a scenic ride and passes through farmland and a hop garden. It also includes a short forest section and passes picnic spots beside the river. The route from Wakefield to Belgrove is 9.5 km and is easy riding and flat most of the way.
Belgrove to Kohatu:
Upon reaching Belgrove the trail 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 Spooners 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 now completed. It is an easy grade following close to the highway most of the way and there is a good cafe at Kohatu.
Kohatu to Tapawera to Woodstock:
The first 7.6 km of this section, from Kohatu to Woodstock, is expected to be completed by the middle of 2020. Until then, cyclists need to ride on the side of the Motueka Valley Highway. There is no shoulder on this section of road. The construction of the off-road trail from Tapawera to Woodstock is unscheduled at this stage. Cyclists wishing to ride this section would be riding on the Motueka Valley Highway which has no shoulder. It is 18 km from Tapawera to Woodstock.
View an interactive map here.