Where is it and how to get there?
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.
The ride – is it doable for you?
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
How far is the ride? 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.
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.
Once through the tunnel it is possible to continue along the recently opened section of The Great Taste Trail….so you can choose to go further if you wish.
What skills do you need to enjoy this ride? The track is grade 2, easy, a gradual gentle uphill climb to the tunnel entrance, making the return trip all downhili. It is two way so watch for riders descending at speed. It is also multi use so expect to see walkers as well.
The tunnel itself continues along the same gentle uphill gradient for 1.35km 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.
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.
Tunnel Road – Easy Grade 1 & 2 riding
Gates that will be challenging if you have kids attached
Towing is an option for kids who may find the gradient and distance a challenge.
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 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
Biking to the entrance Spooners Tunnel.
The start of the 1.35km tunnel – lights are required.