25.4 miles
5,558 ft
-5,557 ft
2,908 ft
High Point

The Coppermine Trail is one of New Zealand’s most accessible alpine mountain bike rides, all the more memorable for its relatively easy up, exhilarating down, amazing rocky tops, sweet-smelling beech forest, and meandering river trail.

Starting amidst Nelson’s cafés and pubs, this stunning day ride should be ridden in one direction starting at Brook Street entrance and finishing at Maitai Dam. The trail heads directly into spectacular hill country via Codger’s Trails area and a long, consistent climb along the historic Dun Mountain Railway route. Broad panoramas of Tasman Bay and the rocky tops of Coppermine Saddle are just some of the rewards. Others are the brilliant 10 km downhill through rock gardens and bush, and the leisurely pedal back to Nelson via the pretty Maitai Valley.

The full loop is best suited to fit, experienced single-track riders with full-suspension mountain bikes. For those less confident, simply U-turn at Coppermine Saddle or Third House and enjoy a return-ride the way you came up.

From Nelson i-SITE the full loop is 43 km, shortened to 38 km if you start and finish at the Brook Street trailhead.

Although the ride time may only be 4-6 hours, we recommend you allow a full day to enjoy this unique environment.

You will be a long way from assistance in an alpine environment and mobile phone reception is patchy, so please ensure you have sufficient food, drink, spare tubes, first aid, and wet/cold weather gear to handle any problems you might encounter.

Detailed Description
Coppermine Trail is a 25 mile popular intermediate route located near Nelson. This mountain bike primary route can be used both directions. This route includes 1 trails. This route climbs 5,558 ft with a max elevation of 2,908 ft then descends -5,557 ft.
Local Trail Association
Local trail association
Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust (www.heartofbiking.org.nz)
Please consider joining or donating to the local riding association to support trail development & maintenance.
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15 Reviews & Comments

  • + 0
Tara40 (Aug 6, 2021 at 20:41)
…..continued from above post. Thank you for the sign on the gate, we found how to get onto the trail.

Head back down to Brook St and turn right, about 1km up the road you’ll come to a small reserve on your left. Go through the small gate & then you’ll have to lift your bike over a fence. Then follow the gravel road (Classic Trail) up to four corners, a steep climb beside the sanctuary fence until you get up to where Coppermine Trail crosses & you can get onto the trail from there.
  • + 0
Tara40 (Aug 6, 2021 at 16:04)
Currently closed for maintenance. Nothing on Nelson Mntn bike club’s website about it being closed. A disappointing start to our day.
  • + 1
NMTBC NMTBC (Oct 11, 2021 at 14:54)
Please note this trail is not managed by NMTBC, it is managed by Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust.
  • + 1
NMTBC NMTBC (Jul 18, 2021 at 13:25)
19 July 21 - Coppermine Trail Pipeline Slip section closure: Due to the significant rainfall the section of the Coppermine Trail running along the pipeline from the Maitai Dam to Smith's Ford is now closed while slip stability monitoring takes place. Please detour via the Maitai Valley Road.
  • + 1
mat3986 (Feb 9, 2020 at 5:10)
As noted by other folks recently the downhill sections must have had a lot of smoothing done on them recently - I encountered two separate work crews (ridden late Jan). The downhill is now on the easy side of intermediate vs. the newly out of date older descriptions of rockier downhills and the Advanced difficulty rating given to the downhill section in the 2017 edition of the awesome Jonathan Kennett "The New Zealand Cycle Trails" book.

Even as an intermediate & safety-conscious rider, the downhill of a few years ago sounds like it was a more fun payoff for that long ride uphill. A no-suspension bike will have no problems here. Also constraining is that you'll want to manage your speed in expectation of other track users around any of the blind corners.

The main payoff for the long up is getting out of the bush and into the sub-alpine terrain which is spectacular and also the history of the trail itself.

+1 on bring plenty of water & snacks.

Some time after the downhill ends the track section (I think from Matai dam to Smiths Ford as noted by Kiwikiv) is still closed so you take the gravel road besides the river (it's not clear from the track-closure signage) looking up at that cool track that you can't do you'll later see a slip area which looks pretty hairy. Later discover for yourself the entry to the Maitai Valley Walkway with a little map-fu.

Before going check track status on trailforks and on www.heartofbiking.org.nz/coppermine-trail though I see no detour notice on there only on trailforks!
  • + 0
Georgemingham (Jan 5, 2020 at 0:58)
Great day trail, make sure you pack plenty of water and snacks!
The downhill is graded as an advanced but it's more of an intermediate, lots of fast berms!
  • + 0
Corwin (Jan 2, 2020 at 10:57)
Downhill has had a lot of work done on it in the last year, I found no issues with the rocks during the descent as it’s pretty much all easy berms at the top now. Definitely watch for walkers. Was very muddy partway down though due to slips (I walked the bike) when I rode this (just before Christmas 2019)
  • + 0
Rmtahoe (Dec 5, 2019 at 14:56)
It wasn’t 7400 feet of climbing. I only got 3500 total up and down. They’ve redone the top 3 miles from the saddle down and it is now smooth and flowy with banked turns.
  • + 0
Kiwikiv (Apr 9, 2019 at 3:18)
Track mostly open - detour in place from Cummins spur to third hut due to slips, also closed from Maitai dam to the Ford, but alternative route along gravel road is fine. At tantragee arboretum sign cross on the arch bridge to follow the off-road track along the river back into Nelson. Great ride, good views, allow 5 hrs inc breaks. Downhill section requires mtb skills to ride steep and rocky.
  • + 0
ContadorHLS (Mar 2, 2019 at 14:08)
All area closed now due to fire hazard, such a pity
  • + 0
MTB-MarkQ (Jan 22, 2019 at 2:55)
We rode this track today and it’s AWESOME! There is a closed section due to a slip but a diversion is in place.
  • + 0
ORRINGE (Apr 10, 2018 at 4:40)
Amazing track
  • + 0
benw MTP (Feb 21, 2018 at 1:35)
Why does this profile say 2200m climb? A loop I’d closer to 1200 and max elevation is Iunder 900m !
  • + 1
Zgriffter (Feb 27, 2017 at 22:41)
Lovely gradual climb with a fast and twisty downhill section, a must when revisit Nelson again
  • + 2
jstrnz (May 15, 2016 at 15:08)
Amazing track, a must-do for keen intermediate-advanced riders. Requires a good level of fitness. Be aware the descent is rough and rocky in places and that the trail is multi-use - expect to encounter other riders and hikers on the descent.

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More Stats for Coppermine Trail mountain bike route
  • Altitude min
    53 ft
  • Altitude start
    73 ft
  • Altitude end
    75 ft
  • Grade max
  • Grade min
  • Distance climb
    12 miles
  • Distance down
    12 miles
  • Distance flat
    2 miles
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Trail transparency
Baby its time, for the Coppermine.
Baby its time, for the Coppermine.
18:26 | 555 | comments: 0 | favs:
Dec 11, 2020
Dun Mountain Trail in Nelson | MTB Trail Magic
Dun Mountain Trail in Nelson | MTB Trail Magic
9:56 | 709 | comments: 0 | favs:
Aug 3, 2019

Recent Trail Reports Along Route

Coppermine Trail
Nov 16, 2022 @ 12:02pm
Nov 16, 2022
Descent from the Coppermine Saddle is very rough. Expect large boulders and uneven surface! reporter
more reports »
  • By markholloway Trailforks & contributors
  • #18321 - 891 views