If you are already on the cycle trail from Nelson stay on the trail and follow the trail signs.
Just out of Richmond, the trail passes a composting centre and Nelson Pine Industries’ plant. This plant sustainably produces GoldenEdge MDF (Medium Density Fibreboard) and NelsonPine LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) from radiata pine grown in the forests of Nelson. Visitors often comment on the chimney emissions, this is just steam.
The trail takes in coastal pathways and board walks around the beautiful, and ecologically significant Waimea Inlet. It is ideally done a few hours either side of high tide for the very best scenery, although bird spotting is best when the tide is out. Check tides.
The Waimea Inlet is the largest enclosed estuary in the South Island and home to a wide range of wading and sea birds including the bar-tailed godwit, white heron, royal spoonbill, little egret, Australasian bittern, and banded rail.
Enjoy a quick refuel at Coffee on the Cycleway (summer only) before heading across the Waimea river suspension bridge, which was built for bikes. Then it’s on to Rabbit Island, through pine forest, out to the expansive beach front, and on towards the Mapua Ferry.
Rabbit Island is a popular recreation area with a swimming beach and many picnic spots. The trail runs parallel to the beach front and on through the forest to the northwest corner of the island.
The Mapua Ferry transfers cyclists to the seaside village of Mapua and the Mapua Wharf precinct. Take time to enjoy Mapua, it offers options for lunch, a relaxing drink and interesting gift shopping. Mapua also has accommodation options, bike hire, and guided tours of the surrounding countryside and wineries.
Visit the Mapua Ferry website for information on operating hours and sailings which change with the seasons.