When we make the effort and take the time to go for a ride with kids, we want it to be an enjoyable experience. To have a ‘great day’ on the bike with kids there are simple things to think about, plan and do.  In this story I am going to introduce you to riding with kids along the Maitai Valley Trail in Nelson, NZ


Supporting you and your family to SMILE when you ride.

Where is it and how to get there?

Located a short way from Nelson City Centre this track is easily accessed.  You can join the track along the banks of the Maitai River in town or you can head up the Maitai Valley and park.

The ride – is it doable for you?

The ride needs to be doable for you and any riders you are biking with.
The ride is approximately 6km in length one way. It is a one way ride so you can determine how far you go by deciding when you turn around.  How much time do you have, how far should you go and what are your riders capable of? Answer these questions then work out your start and end point.

This trail is a great safe introduction to single track riding. You will only need basic biking skills. Riding the trail will build on these skills and riders will gain confidence in; steering – sticking to and choosing your path,  changing gears – riding up short sharp rises, braking – riding going down these rises, negotiating obstacles – tree roots, stones, bridges. 
The biking surface is compacted gravel, some loose gravel, compacted dirt with tree roots.  The ride is very gentle uphill riding, next to the river. 
Remember the weather on the day will effect your ride

Easy Grade 1 & 2 riding

There are several gates to make your way through

The playground at Black Hole.


It doesn’t matter what ride you are doing or where you are going, you will always want to be safe. Check out the goRide guide How to have a “great day’ on the bike for general information on how to make sure you are safe on the bike.

You and safety – Am I safe to goRide?  A checklist to complete that ensures you are safe to goRide
Your bike and safety – goRide pre ride bike safety check – is it safe? A checklist to complete pre-ride so that you know your bike is in working order


Enjoy the experience and have fun

If you have worked through the points above then you will be more likely to enjoy and have fun on your ride. There is so much fun to be had on a bike – the pace you go, being close and connected with nature, your ease to detour from the trail…I wonder what is around this corner, and your ability to stop and get off your bike means you get to discover all sorts of things along the way. Sometimes you will know about and plan to enjoy things and then there are those wonderful surprise discoveries.

Some things that you could plan to discover on the Matai River Trail.
Swimming holes – You pass some great swimming holes along the way.

  • Black Hole – playground, fields, toilets, barbeque
    Dennes Hole – cricket fields
    Sunday Hole – playground, field, toilets
    All great places for a snack or picnic, or just stop for a swim. If it is too cold for a swim and it is safe there are good places for paddling or throwing stones or dam building in the river.

Playgrounds – At both Black Hole and Sunday Hole

Playing fields – Maitai cricket ground, Branford Park at Sunday Hole and Black Hole.

Walk to Centre of New Zealand starting from Branford Park. See here for map.


Will this ride work for your family?

Does the ride fit with what you want to achieve? Up to 12km (6 km each way) of  single track riding. As discussed you can alter the start point and turn around point to alter the distance.  Could you get a car with a bike rack to the end point – a small carpark approximately 5 km up the Maitai Valley Road just past the Maitai Campground at the Pipeline Bridge.  This ride  can be linked to other rides if you want to go further

Here is a link provided by the Nelson City Council –  map of Maitai Valley ride

If you don’t have your own bike or are a visitor to Nelson – you can still enjoy this ride. You can hire a bike from  Trail Journeys at MD Outdoors just near the Information Centre. Note: Trail Journeys are in multiple locations throughout the Nelson region so if you plan ahead and let them know what you need, they will get it for you.


Over looking the Maitai River

Throw stones, swim or build a dam…

The river is easily accessed in multiple places from the trail.

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