Coppermine Trail

The Coppermine Trail is open to cyclists and walkers.

Getting to the Coppermine Trail

From Nelson, ride up to the trail interpretation board just past 135 Brook Street. This is the start to the Coppermine Trail.

Maps of the trail

Download the Coppermine Trail map (1.1MB PDF)

The Coppermine Trail is based on the line of New Zealand’s first railway used to transport minerals from the eastern slopes of the Wooded Peak. Today this historic railway provides a steady gradient to its terminus near Coppermine Saddle. The trail then descends to the Maitai Dam and follows the Nelson City water supply pipeline to the lower Maitai Valley.

The 38 km Coppermine Trail, is a circuit that loops between Brook Valley and the Maitai Valley and is suitable for bikers and walkers. The Dun Mountain rises to 1129m and is one of the most distinctive mountains around Nelson -due to its unique geology.

The trail was officially opened on 12 November 2011 as the third great ride to be completed under Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail.

Getting to the trail

If you are riding to the trail, access is best via the Brook Street entrance, just 2.7km from Nelson City centre. Head south out of Nelson up the Brook Valley to 135 Brook St where you will see an entrance sign and a kiosk immediately before Blick Terrace.

For those driving to the start of the trail another option is to head 6 km up the Maitai Valley from Nelson past the golf course to near the Maitai Camping Ground to where a similar entrance sign and kiosk have been installed.


Take warm clothing, food and water.

For Bikes: Grade Three Intermediate to Four Advanced*

Ride Time: 1 day

* A good level of fitness is required and, due to the current condition of the Trail, all riders who want to complete the circuit and ride from Coppermine Saddle to the Maitai should be confident grade 4 mountain bikers. A full suspension bike is recommended. For less expert mountain bikers, the ride up and back via Third House is still a great day out, just remember that there will be people riding up as you ride down. You will be a long way from assistance, and mobile phone reception is patchy, so please ensure you have sufficient food, drink, spare tubes and wet weather gear to handle any problems you might encounter.

Video of Coppermine Trail

Watch the Coppermine Trail launch video.

Check out more Coppermine Trail video.

See the Dun Trail on Google Street View.

Images from Coppermine Trail opening day

Go to our facebook page to check out opening day images.

Walk or ride the Coppermine Trail

Brook St Entrance to Third House

Time: Walking - 3 hours

Distance: 11.3 km

The trail follows the original railway alignment through the Codgers Trails area taking in recently harvested land to reach native forest in a couple of gullies before reaching Bullock Spur. The alignment continues through regenerating forest to Cummins Spur Crossing. (Four Corners) From here the trail continues at a pleasant gradient through mature beech forest eventually reaching the site of Third House at 660m.

Third House to Coppermine Saddle

Time: Walking 1.5 hours

Distance: 6 Km

The trail continues to Junction Saddle when the old railway alignment joins the main ridge. Beyond Junction Saddle the trail continues to climb steadily through stunning beech forest all the way to the site of Fourth House. Soon after Coads Creek is crossed a sudden change in vegetation from mature forest to the stunted manuka and shrubland of the 'mineral belt' occurs. This infertile, distinctly-coloured landform belt is also found in Otago and in several places between St Arnaud and D’urville Island. The single track takes you all the way from here to Coppermine Saddle (878m) for some great views of the Richmond Range down to the Maitai Valley.

Coppermine Saddle to Maitai Dam

Time: Walking – 2.5 hours

Distance: 9.3 Km

From here it’s mostly down hill to the Maitai Dam. The landscape is amazing and the scenery breathtaking, however this 10km section is a challenging and advanced technical descent on loose rocky terrain more suitable for a full suspension bike. Sections of this part of the track are narrow with deep drainage ditches on either side and care should be taken to moderate speed. Due to the nature of the larger rocks and rough creek crossings, punctures are common and it is suggested that you increase your rear tyre pressure and carry suitable spares. Maintenance/upgrade work is being planned for this section of the trail.

Maitai Dam to Smiths Ford

Time: Walking - 1 hour

Distance: 3.8 Km

The route currently connects back to the start of the trail via the Maitai Valley Road, however a further section of new trail will be added soon which runs alongside the Nelson water pipeline and down a cruisy downhill to come out at Smiths Ford Bridge further down the Valley.

Smiths Ford to Maitai Entrance

Time: Walking - 1hour ( road walk)

Distance: 3.1 Km

From Smiths Ford the route continues on the road to the Maitai Motor Camp, then it’s either a road ride back to Nelson via the Maitai Valley Road or to follow the Maitai Valley Walkway down to Nile Street and Nelson City.

Completing the circuit

If you want to complete the circuit back to Brook St you can either head back into town and back up Brook St or head over the Groom Creek trail behind Maitai Motor Camp back to the Tantragee Saddle then down to Brook St on the first part of the trail you started on.

Please remember: The track is shared with mountain bikers. Bikers should always give way to walkers and stay in control of their bikes. No animals, firearms or fires are allowed. Be wary of sudden weather changes, especially beyond Third House.