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Art & Heritage

Spooners Range Tunnel – Nelson Shared Cycle & Walk Experience

Part of the Great Taste Shared Pathway Wakefield to Kohatu

Tunnels are mysterious, cool and packed with history. What was the Spooners Tunnel built for (railway track) and what happened next. Ride the Great Taste Trail or simply walk through the tunnel and enjoy. 

The railway to nowhere was a dream. Linking Nelson to the main trunk line and the rest of the South Island was never realised. Nelson never got the connection (another 70 km of railway track) to Inangahua Junction and South Island main rail line.



Prominent trade unionist, politician and feminist Sonja Davies sat on the tracks, along with local stalwarts opposed to the closing of the rail.


Failure with their arrest. Their decision to sit on the tracks at the Tapawera station for a week ended with nine women, including Davies, being arrested and fined. The railway line closed in September 1955.

Spooners tunnel as a part of the Great Taste Trail in Nelson New Zealand @cyclecoachjanetstark
Spooners Tunnel - Instagram @cyclecoachjanetstark
Spooners rail tunnel as a part of the Great Taste Trail in Nelson New Zealand
Spooners Rail Tunnel - Instagram @wherewasdave



Great Taste Trail: Wakefield to Kohatu Spooners Range tunnel is 1.35 km in length and it is a shared tunnel with the Great Taste Cycling Trail. It is an even surface with floor lighting which is triggered by movement. It is advisable you wear a head torch to assist with vision. The tunnel is hand-carved.


The 1.35 km-long tunnel was completed in 1893.  The tunnel closed when the railway was decommissioned in 1955. The tunnel lay mostly unused for 60 years until it was re-opened in 2016 to become part of the Great Taste Trail. There is a story how the local member of Parliament sat on the railway lines, with her knitting in a vain attempt to keep the rail link open. She would be very pleased with the reimagined use of the tunnel and the opportunity of tourism to bring visitor dollars to the local economy.

At the southern tunnel portal there is a toilet.


Sunshine is a metaphor for Nelson and you are short on time for Cycling / Road trip extended weekend in Nelson grab the Best Bits.

Find out what Things to do in Nelson City Attractions, Activities & Places to Visit and enjoy one of New Zealand’s premier holiday destinations.


 Check the Travel Pack Information brochure (PDF below) for details around the tunnel construction and history.

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