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Upper South Island loop road trip, Kaikoura, Marlborough returning to Nelson

Nelson to Murchison

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Nelson to Murchison abandoned home Nelson to Murchison abandoned home

Start the journey in the quiet corners of the upper South Island and discover where wild meets west with heritage gold mining trails, then indulge in natural hot mineral spas then splurge on scenery that is picture-poster perfect. The start and finish is in sunny Nelson where foodie trails, heritage and scenery add to a glamorous bookends to a New Zealand holiday experience.

State Highway 6 from Nelson to Murchison passing Brigthwater, Wakefield, Murchison

185 km 2 ¾ hours


Brightwater & heritage trails

Take a whistle stop photo moment in Brightwater and perhaps check out the local wineries.  It is Nelson after all with its well known wine trails.  There are two heritage church’s worth a second look for those interested in New Zealand church architecture.


  • Home to Lord Rutherford memorial, birthplace
  • Kaimara Winery
  • Middle-Earth Winery
  • Great Taste Cycle Trail entrance / exit

VISIT DURATION – 40 minutes

Great Taste Trail Spooners Tunnel @George Guille Media

Spooners Range Tunnel walk or cycle

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. Check Travel Pack Information for details around the tunnel construction and history.

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.


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