Sunrise Ridge, Whaimana, 629, Mutleys, Peaking & Fringed Hill

Sunrise Ridge is a serious ride of 3 to 4 hours that can be done right from the centre of Nelson. This is not a beginner's ride, but for riders who like grade 4+ with technical riding over roots it is hard to beat. Even though it is close to the heart of Nelson you are in thick bush country so treat it with respect and carry spares and repair equipment. There is no water on the route and you will need to take care to follow the markers.

From Tantragee Saddle take the Fringed Hill road to the top. This takes about an hour to an hour and a half. At the last major Y intersection on the road, there is also a large skid site which accesses two Fringed Hill trails on the Brook face of the mountain - FDH and the Classic. FDH is a grade five downhill trail running mostly down Bullock Spur, while the Classic is an old firebreak run, both trails emerging onto the upper reaches of Brook Street.

400m up from that Y intersection, there is a gnarly steep little bit right at the top to stretch the legs on if you are able to ride it. Go to the highest point by the trig where Black Diamond Ridge heads off to the east. From Fringed Hill the track is rooty and rocky in places with a few steep little carries. Some steep rooty and rocky descents as the track follows the ridge top will keep you entertained. You need to ride this section of track a few times to get to appreciate it as it is very technical.

Steep rooty descent on Black Diamond Ridge

After about half an hour you reach the 4 way signposted intersection at Junction Knob. Turn left here to the Maitai via Sunrise Ridge. If you've had enough go straight ahead and you will pop out on the Dun Mountain Track at Junction Saddle. Third House and back along the Dun track. 

A freak storm in 2008 wreaked havoc on Sunrise Ridge

About 1km along Sunrise Ridge Whaimana track drops off to the left. For the 2 kms there is a smorgasbord of roots, rocky outcrops, the odd log pile and always more roots. But most of them are rideable. Eventually you emerge from the bush in a gorsey clearing (spot height 629m) on to a 4WD track. From here you can keep left and ride down the 629 track (grade 5) or follow the main set of wheel tracks down to a major forest road which takes you down to the South Branch of the Maitai. Keep to the true left and follow the benched track to link up with the track along the pipeline to Smiths Ford. From here cruise the road back to a latte in Nelson.

Alternatively 629 and Sunrise Ridge can be accessed from the Maitai Valley. Starting at Smiths Ford follow the Coppermine trail for 1500 metres then turn right up a forestry road which will take you to E Tu, a climbing trail, which zig-zags up the hill to the north end of Sunrise Ridge, 629 trail and Mutleys. Note: Mutleys is a very serious grade 5.

Alternatively throw a right part way along Sunrise Ridge and head down Peaking Ridge. This is the most popular route off Sunrise Ridge. There is a very steep rooty section at the top of Peaking Ridge that many riders may choose to walk. Twenty minutes of technical descent takes you down on to the 4wd track leading out from the Dun Mountain Track. Turn left and follow the road. Don't cross the river, go straight ahead on to the pipeline track that takes you all the way to Smiths Ford and the Maitai Road.