NZ MTB Guide: Cable Bay Adventure Park - Nelson
Nelson is a scenic place at the top of New Zealand's south island. Sitting right along the coast it's a great spot to unwind but, if you're ready to wind things up and get the adrenaline flowing check out 'Cable Bay Adventure Park'. There are a tonne of activities for the family to enjoy and a cafe at the bottom. Keep them busy while you go and experience some of the best tracks you can imagine. Being so close to Australia it's a wonder why more Australian mountain bikers aren't over here more often!
We're not going to beat around the bush on this one, these trails are hard and so is the climb to the top. We recommend that only experienced riders take on the descent and proceed with caution, treating the trails with respect at all times.
What To Bring
You'll be spending a long time in the saddle so you need to come prepared. We're talking water (1.5L minimum recommended), snacks / food, tube, inflation device, small tools and any other ride saving accessories you can take. I rode with an USWE Outlander 3 as well as the Fidlock water bottle. This was a good amount of water and still allowed for tools and snacks including peanut butter and jam sandwiches, highly recommended for a tasty energy hit!
You start your pedal at the cafe and cruise your way up 'Skywire Road', don't rush things as you're only just starting out and it's a long way up. The first trail you'll arrive at is 'Pines'. In case the name didn't give it away, this track is in the pine forest. Featuring steep chutes to catch berms and off camber straights the track keeps you on your toes from top to bottom. Once you hit the road at the end of the track turn left to return to the top and being a serious assault on your legs. If you're feeling it in the legs before you get to pines it might be worth skipping this track, the climb back to the top is rather evil.
Once you're at the top of 'Pines' again get back onto 'Skywire Road' and keep chugging along, looking out for a single track shooting off the side. Once taken you'll have a small climb before you take the next descent you see. Only a small track but a nice link onto the next climb along 'Bayview Road' which naturally takes you to a lookout. The view over Cable Bay from the lookout is simply amazing. A great spot to sit down and take a bite to eat before the last... steepest climb.
You're probably a little fatigued by now but you've made it, you're at the top. It's time to ride down what you've worked so hard for. Dropping into Gamble don't let the excitement get the better of you. Relax and flow your way down the trail, the terrain is rough and the corners sometimes a little tight so you want to be looking ahead and finding the smooth lines where possible. Gamble has many fun chutes and loose rocky corners for you to navigate with decent natural flow. It's easy to get carried away on this one so keep your speed in check and focus sharp.
Halfway down you'll be faced with the option of continuing down 'Gamble' or taking on 'Jurassic'. We chose the later and although I haven't ridden the rest of 'Gamble', it was not a regrettable decision. The trial works it's way down the steeps with tight, technical yet highly enjoyable switch backs mixed in with faster smoothed our turns. Upon completion you'll be heading back to base along 'Livewire'. It has a few fun little sections but is more or less a link track back to the cafe. A short drive down the road and you can cool off in the picturesque cable bay of an afternoon. I can't think of a better spot to finish a mountain bike ride.
I can't speak highly enough of the trails here and it's even more impressive to know that all the trails are volunteer built! Some serious work has gone in up there and it shows with the quality descent you'll experience. If you're lucky enough to be on the NZ south island for some mountain biking I can't recommend 'Cable Bay Adventure Park' enough for experienced riders who are after a challenge!