Taylor River - Blenheim
Starting from the centre of Blenheim as a wide concrete path, this gentle ride meanders up the scenic Taylor River. There are several potential destinations, with the farthest being the Taylor Dam Reserve.
Distance: 5–20 km return
Ride Time: 1–3 hours return
Start either from the Blenhiem i-SITE carpark beside Highway One, or the large carpark at the east end of High Street.
If starting from the i-SITE, ride to the south end of the carpark, across the railway tracks and down Horton Street to Taylor River. At the river, turn right and ride past Marlborough’s River Queen, a classic river steamer with a café and bar. Cross the curved pedestrian bridge to the other side of the river and follow the main path up valley, through Riverside Park.
For the shortest, easiest ride, cross the bridge by the Monro Street sign, after just 2.5 km, and return along the opposite bank of the river.
Otherwise, take a look at the mapboard and make your way further up river. After 6 km the path become gravel and then narrows up a bit. Just turn back when you feel like it. There is a small hill just before Taylor Dam Reserve, which climbs up onto the earth dam itself. The reserve is on the other side of the dam, and has toilets, a small playground and picnic areas. Return the same way, or explore sections on the other side of the river if you feel adventurous.
Although the Taylor Dam is the largest flood retention dam in New Zealand, it only takes 5 minutes to ride around it. The reserve has overnight parking for campervans.
On the way to Taylor Dam you will pass the Wither Hills Mountain Bike Park. This has several great trails that provide a good buzz for keen riders, young and old.
Cafes: The Raupo Riverside Café (6 Symons Street) is a popular starting point for this ride.
Bike Hire: The closest bike shop to the trail is Bikefit Marlborough at 24 Market Street in Blenheim (phone 03 972 2239, www.bikefit.co.nz). They have a wide range of bikes from $25 for half a day. Alternatively, try AvantiPlus (phone 03 578 0433) or Cycleworld (phone 03 579 4111).
For more easy rides, head over to Nelson and try various parts of the Great Taste Trail. A closer ride is the Rifle Range Mountain Bike Track, which goes for 2 km from a carpark at the end of Rowan Place to the Wither Hills Mountain Bike Park.