When we make the effort and take the time to go for a ride at a fun destination, like Spooners Tunnel 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 we are riding to Spooners Tunnel on The Great Taste Trail in Nelson with Rhea 13yrs old – mountain bikes occasionally, Isaac 10yrs old – mountain bikes occasionally
Spooners Tunnel – Where is it?
Located 30mins from central Nelson on State Highway 6, just past Wakefield.
Parking can be difficult right at the base of Spooners Saddle so about 500m before the track leaves the side of the road is a large open area for parking. Opposite Belgrove Tavern. Don’t block the track entrance with your car and be considerate of the local residents.
Spooners Tunnel is part of The Great Taste Trail. A section called Belgrove to Kohutu. For a story on biking from Nelson to Kaiteriteri along this trail with kids go HERE.
If you need to hire bikes see Trail Journeys in the Millers Acre Centre, 37-39 Halifax Street…or Torpedo 7 on the corner of Rutherford & Bridge Street, Nelson.
Is it doable?
The ride needs to be doable for you and any riders (kids) you are biking with.
From the carpak join the Great Taste Trail heading southwest. Please be careful as this section is right next to the main road and there is a couple of crossings of the 100km highway. The biking surface is compact dirt with gravel…Is It Doable?
It is 500m to the start of Tunnel road from the carpark. The northern end of the tunnel is approximately 4.5kms up Tunnel Road. Then the tunnel itself is 1.35km long. So the one way ride to the south end of the tunnel is roughly 6.35km, return 12.7kms. The track is grade 2, easy, a gradual gentle uphill climb to the tunnel entrance, making the return trip all downhill! It is two way so watch for riders descending at speed. It is also multi use so expect to see walkers as well.
SPOONERS TUNNEL 1.35KM
The tunnel itself continues along the same gentle uphill gradient. It has no lighting and is extremely dark inside. You will definitely need bike lights. It is also noticeably colder than the outside temperature so even on a sunny day you will need to add a layer. It can take a while to adjust to your dark surroundings so keep the kids close and just keep chatting to them. This is a popular local ride so expect to see other riders or walkers. The tunnel is about 3m wide so it is possible to pass others – it can be very hard to judge exactly where an approaching light is so remind the kids to keep left and watch the tunnel floor in front of their bike wheel. In other words warn them not to stare into the oncoming lights.
Information Board at entrance to Spooners Tunnel
Entrance to Spooners Tunnel
Lights are needed to safely ride through the tunnel
ADDING SOME MORE
Once through the tunnel it is possible to continue along the recently opened section of The Great Taste Trail which will take you 6km through the Noris Gully Reserve. There are lots of open grass areas which would be ideal for a family picnic.
It doesn’t matter what ride you are doing or where you are going, you want to feel comfortable. Check out the goRide guide How to have a “great day” on the bike for general information on how to make sure you are comfortable on the bike.
Water – you will need enough to last the length of your ride. There is no tap water available along the trail. There is a port-a-loo (toilet) at the southern end of the tunnel.
Protection – As they are riding a bike there is a chance for accidents – bike gloves, covered arms, covered legs, good helmets are some protection options. Please make them wear shoes. Comfort on the seat can be a big factor so consider padded bike underwear – goUnders for Kids, see photo to right. Worn under their shorts or leggings these ‘undies’ protect soft tissue & prevent chaffing.
As already mentioned it is cold in the tunnel so carry a warm layer to put on before you go through.
Food – A muesli bar or a bit of chocolate can be a great motivator or reward at the top of a hill and as we mentioned above they will have to climb.
It doesn’t matter what ride you are doing or where you are going, you want to feel 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.
Maps – There is a map board at the main entrance – see photo above. We recommend staying on Tunnel Road then it is a simple return trip.
At the southern end of the tunnel there is a great little advice board but most riders are approaching from the northern end…
- a light is requires
- keep left and stay on cycle path
- 15kph max speed
- slow when approaching others
- prepare to stop when meeting others
- travel in numbers
And a seperate sign warns that the sides of the tunnel are covered in soot… Do Not Touch.
First Aid – Carry a basic biking first aid kit in your bag or on your bike. Have a more comprehensive kit in the car or a refill pack incase serious patch ups are required. Grazed knees, elbows and irrigation for eyes are the most common minor biking accidents.
You – Am I safe to Mountain Bike Ride? A checklist to complete that ensures YOU are safe to goRide.
Bike – goRide pre-ride bike safety check – is it safe? A simple checklist to complete pre-ride so that you know your bike is in working order.
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 when out exploring on a bike
- Let the kids lead the way. Let them work out distances as they ride up Tunnel Road
- Stop in the tunnel and turn off your lights to see just how dark it is!!
- Make a day trip of it my taking lunch to have
Does it fit?
Are your kids capable of riding this distance…I think most kids would be capable of this ride. Listen to them and stop when they need to. The return trip down the hill is so easy they won’t even need to pedal.
For this particular outing we were testing out the Tow Whee tow rope which worked really well. The gradient is gentle enough for most adults to be able to pull someone along.
Can you Ride with Kids Attached?
This is a simple ride on a well maintained wide track so is ideal for riding with all types of kids bike seats or trailers. The only barrier to this type of riding is the design of the gates – seen on a lot of NZ Cycle Trail rides. The photo below shows the design and how awkward they would be with a bike trailer or rear bike seat. I think most trailers would have to be detached and lifted over the gate. There is one of these gates right at the beginning of the ride as you start on Tunnel Road. The gate in the photo is after the tunnel heading out along the valley.
Did you ride Spooners Tunnel ? Did you have a great day on the bike?
What went well? What could you work on next time? It’s all about taking steps and small gains…oh the places you’ll go, the things you will see.
We would love to hear about your ‘great days’ on the bike.
Spooners Tunnel with Kids
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