Unleashing the Thrill: Discover the Best Mountain Biking in Nelson, New Zealand

A mountain bike rider descends a swooping trail

“Nelson is wide open for mountain biking”


New Zealand, a land of stunning landscapes and thrilling adventures, is a paradise for mountain biking enthusiasts. Among its many gems, Nelson stands out as a premier destination for this exhilarating sport, with trails from the region consistently ranking in the top ten NZ mountain biking trails. With over 400kms of single track within a 45-minute drive of the city centre, Nelson is a mountain biker’s dream come true. This article will guide you through the best mountain biking in Nelson, a region that promises an unforgettable experience for every rider.   Don’t just take our word on how awesome mountain biking is in New Zealand, and in Nelson in particular, check out these articles for more information:






The Nelson Advantage

Nelson, a coastal city on the South Island, is renowned for its vibrant cycling culture and is home to some of the best mountain biking in New Zealand (https://www.singletracks.com/mtb-trails/destination-guide-nelson-nz/). With more hours of sunshine annually than anywhere else in the country, Nelson offers an ideal climate for outdoor activities. But it’s not just the weather that makes Nelson a top choice for mountain biking. The city is surrounded by eight mountain bike hubs, each offering a wide variety of styles and levels of mountain bike trails suitable for the whole family and all your friends.

Keep an eye out for Josef… if you can even see him as he flies past.

Variety and Versatility

The beauty of Nelson’s mountain biking scene lies in its diversity. From the beginner friendly scenic trails of the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike park, to the adrenaline-pumping trails of Wairoa Gorge , there’s something for everyone. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, you’ll find trails that challenge and inspire you, we even have a handy guide breaking down the best Nelson trails by level of rider over HERE.  We’ve also provided a handy guide to all the best mountain bike shuttle options in the region, as there is so much to ride it would be impossible to tick-off all the highlights without some kind of assistance on the climbs.

Here are some specific examples of the quantity, style, and level of some of the best mountain biking trails in each of the eight mountain bike hubs in the region:

1. Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park:

This park offers more than 25 trails weaving through both native forest and open terrain. The trails cater to all skill levels, from family groups looking for holiday fun to more advanced mountain bikers after steep climbs, swift descents, and testing surprises. A classic introductory ride starts from the skills area, where it’s possible to warm up on a couple of the lower trails before zigzagging up Ziggy’s then climbing via Corkscrew’s switchbacks for almost 4km to an epic lookout over Kaiteriteri and Tasman Bay. Recommended trails include “Jaws” for a thrilling, flowing 4km descent and “Easy Rider” for smooth swooping trail.  More information can be found here.   Of all the riding hubs in the Nelson-Tasman region this is probably the best one for introducing kids or beginners to mountain biking, if you are doing this take into consideration our handy tips for Successfully Introducing Kids to Mountain Biking.

2. The Wairoa Gorge Mountain Bike Park:

This park is home to 70km of hand-built mountain bike trails, 70% of which are up to Grade 4. The trails run through a lush native beech forest environment and exotic forest from a maximum elevation of 1200m. The park offers a mix of epic gravity-fueled backcountry riding and bike park convenience, the Gorge is only accessible by mountain bike shuttle, with either the Nelson Mountain Bike Club or Gravity Nelson operating shuttles within the park.  Although the park has developed a fearsome reputation for its harder trails on the “dark side” of the park, there are also an extensive range of super fun and friendly Grade Four trails such as “No Pressure”, “Creamed Rice” and others.  If this wide range of choice and grades of trails at the Gorge sounds overwhelming consider hiring a guide to show you around and offer you riding tips while ensuring you are on the best trails for your ability.

Gravity Nelson Mountain Bike Shuttle Vehicles and Drivers

Gravity Nelson Mountain Bike Shuttle Vehicles and Drivers

3. The Richmond Hills Mountain Bike Park:

The park offers a smaller quantity of trails for all skill levels. The trails are well-maintained and offer a mix of technical and flowy sections. The park is popular among local riders and offers stunning views of the surrounding area.  The Tasman District Council manages this park and in 2023 is renovating the climbing track as well as installing new descending trails.

4. Silvan Forest Mountain Bike Park:

This park offers a network of dual direction climbing trails and wicked downhill descents. The park has recently had much of the pine forest harvested providing unimpeded views out to the Tasman bay providing a unique riding experience.  There is a large number of trails here with a variety of styles, something to suit everyone.  The 600+m elevation change to climb to the top of the park means this is a very popular park for ebikes, so you could consider renting an ebike to make the most of riding here.

5. Codgers Mountain Bike Park:

Located in the heart of Nelson City, Codgers is one of the region’s most popular and accessible mountain bike parks. The park contains a range of trails suitable for everyone, from easy winding tracks to daredevil downhill descents.  With a smaller vertical ascent than many of the other Nelson mountain bike parks this park is particularly suited to less fit riders or families. Riding up to the iconic “Firball Trig” reveals an amazing photo opportunity of the entire Tasman Bay and descending “Firball” is a fun adventure for the whole family.   If you are riding an ebike you could consider trying this Beginner/Intermediate ebike tour of Codgers to ride all the highlights.   Codgers is also a favourite hub for coaching lessons, never considered receiving a mountain bike coaching lesson? Take our handy quiz as to why you might want one!

Kids Mountain Bike Coaching and Progression

Expert coaches in Codgers Mountain Bike Park

6. Sharlands Forest Mountain Bike Park:

Situated just 10 minutes from central Nelson in the Hira Forest, the Sharlands tracks run the length of the picturesque valley, featuring a range of easy fire road climbs and epic downhill trails.  The majority of the descending trails here are Grade Five or Six so definitely for more experienced riders on high quality mountain bikes.  However those looking for a challenge will find these narrow, steep and technical trails exhilerating.   This is another popular area for mountain bike shuttles so riders can make the most of the descending without blowing up or exhausting themselves on the climbs.

7. The Cable Bay Adventure Park:

A scenic 15 minute drive from the Nelson CBD this newish mountain bike park has an ever growing number of volunteer built trails situated in amazing Native bush and pine plantations. Trails are generally narrow, but there are trails for most levels of riders and access is easy up the road, shuttles are offered regularly to access the middle of the park. The park also has non-biking activities such as quadratrack tours, a zipline, and petting zoo.   Cable Bay Adventure Park offers regular casual shuttles up the first 200m of elevation in the park, as well as private shuttles to the very top and the hardest trails in the park.  Gravity Nelson also has a concession to shuttle in the park if you want private shuttles that can reach the top.



To truly make the most of the riding in the Nelson region, consider bringing a high-quality mountain bike or renting one. With the region’s varied terrain and lots of elevation, an electric mountain bike or contracting mountain bike shuttle services can help you enjoy much more descending.

Choosing the Right Bike

The Nelson region offers a variety of trails that cater to different skill levels, from easy winding tracks to daredevil downhill descents. Therefore, the type of bike you choose should align with your skill level and the type of trails you plan to tackle. A full-suspension mountain bike is generally a good choice for most trails in the region, providing the necessary comfort and control for both uphill climbs and downhill descents.  If you are doing Intermediate or Advanced trails in the region you should consider a bike with aggressive geometry and wider tires with thicker sidewalls for maximum grip and durability.

Electric Mountain Bikes

Electric mountain bikes (e-bikes) can be a great option for those who want to cover more ground without exhausting themselves on the uphill sections. E-bikes provide an added boost on climbs, allowing you to conserve energy for the descents. This can be particularly beneficial in areas like the Silvan Mountain Bike Park where the highest trails are over 600m of elevation, Fringed Hill with over 700m of elevation, and adventurous backcountry rides like the Coppermine with a total elevation climb of 1000m during the 42km loop.   If you don’t own an ebike, or haven’t ever tried one then renting one to explore Nelson’s trails could be the perfect opportunity.

electric mountain bikes

Electric Mountain Bikes Rock for Exploring Nelson

Mountain Bike Shuttle Services

Mountain bike shuttle services are available in the Nelson region, providing transport to the top of popular trails. This allows you to enjoy the thrill of downhill riding without the strenuous uphill climb. Shuttle services can be particularly useful for trails like those in the Wairoa Gorge, where the elevation can reach up to 1200m . The Cable Bay Adventure Park has its own shuttles in the park to provide uplift to the middle of the park. Gravity Nelson has concessions to operate shuttles in almost all of the mountain bike parks in the region and offers both Private and Casual shuttle options.

Trail Selection

The Nelson region boasts a variety of trails that cater to different skill levels. For beginners, the Codgers MTB park offers easy winding tracks that are perfect for honing basic mountain biking skills. Intermediate riders might enjoy the challenges presented by the Sharlands Trails, which feature a range of easy fire road climbs and epic downhill trails. Advanced riders looking for a thrill should not miss the Wairoa Gorge, home to over 70km of hand-built mountain bike trails with a maximum elevation of 1200m.  If you would like a video overview of some of the trails in the region you can check out this video playlist of POV videos. We also have a written overview of the best trails by rider experience HERE.

Safety Precautions

Lastly, always remember to prioritize safety when mountain biking. Wear a helmet and appropriate protective gear, and ensure your bike is in good working condition before hitting the trails. Be aware of the trail conditions and adjust your riding accordingly. And remember, the trails are there to be enjoyed by everyone, so always be respectful of other trail users.

The Multi-Day Experience

Given the abundance of thrilling rides and breathtaking trails, visitors should allocate several days to fully experience the mountain biking opportunities throughout the region. With such a vast array of trails, you won’t need to ride the same one twice unless you find a particular trail irresistible. Moreover, with numerous trail centres in the region, there’s always a trail open that caters to everyone’s preferences, even if certain areas are temporarily closed due to logging or other activities.

Return Visits

Once you’ve had a taste of the trails in Nelson, you’ll quickly realize that a return visit is a must. With new trails to explore and old favorites to revisit, Nelson’s mountain biking scene continually draws riders back for more exhilarating experiences.


Q: What makes Nelson a top choice for mountain biking in New Zealand?

A: Nelson is home to over 400kms of single track within a 45-minute drive of the city centre. The region boasts eight mountain bike hubs, each offering a diverse range of trails suitable for riders of all skill levels.

Q: How can I maximize my mountain biking experience in Nelson?

A: To fully embrace the region’s varied terrain and significant elevation, consider bringing a high-quality mountain bike or renting one. An electric mountain bike or utilizing mountain bike shuttle services can also enhance your experience.

Q: How long should I plan to stay in Nelson for mountain biking?

A: Given the extensive riding opportunities and numerous amazing trails, plan for several days to ride throughout the region. There’s no need to repeat trails unless you find one particularly enjoyable.

Q: Is it worth returning to Nelson for more mountain biking?

A: Absolutely! Once you’ve experienced the trails in Nelson, you’ll quickly realize that a return visit is essential to explore more trails and revisit your favorites from previous visits.

Mountain Biking in Pine Forests

Railing the Wairoa Gorge


Nelson, with its extensive network of trails and diverse terrain, truly stands out as a premier destination for mountain biking in New Zealand. Whether you’re seeking a leisurely ride through picturesque landscapes or an adrenaline-fueled descent down challenging trails, Nelson has it all. So gear up, and get ready to discover the best mountain biking in New Zealand right here in Nelson. You won’t be disappointed!

Remember, the journey is as exciting as the destination. So, whether you’re a seasoned rider or a newbie, Nelson’s mountain biking trails promise an adventure like no other. Happy riding!