MtB Coaching NZ

Top 3 Spring Challenge Training Activities in Takaka

So, what are the Top 3 Spring Challenge training activities in Takaka and why? Okay, so these things are not purely in Takaka, but they are all based over in Golden Bay and Takaka is where you would base yourself from to do them.

Rameka Track

Why this is good for your Spring Challenge Training?

It will provide you with a great adventurous ride that will give you some good steady climbs (if you do the ride as I did) to work on your fitness and also plenty of downhill to work on your skills and develop your confidence at a speed you choose to ride at.

This is a long single track that takes you from neat Harwood Hole down close to Takaka. This is a bit of a logistical challenge and requires an understanding friend or partner to drop you and your bike at the top and then pick you up again at the bottom, or two vehicles one at the bottom of the hill and one at the top (remember to take both sets of keys with you and do not leave them in the other vehicle). Alternatively touch base with Steve Newport of Nelson Heli-Biking who often runs a vehicle based shuttle service that is reasonably priced and if there are a few of you I am sure he will arrange the shuttle service.

You have a couple of options for the start location of this ride. You can get dropped off at the junction of SH60 and Canaan Rd and use the ride up the gravel road for your warm up. After 9km look for the trail that breaks off over the paddocks to the left. This Canaan Downs Side Loop is just over 2km of single track and a great change from the gravel road you have been on up to this point.

Both the road and this side loop takes you through to the car park at the road end. You could alternatively drive here and then ride any of the side loops or the main Rameka Track. From the carpark you can follow the Gold Creek Loop that will bring you back to the car park. Not too technically challenging but a great wee extension of 4.5km to your overall ride.

The main event is the Rameka Track which is just a short ride (800m) up the hill from the carpark. Turn left and follow the signs for a sweet flowing descent down hill (600m vertical metres over 12km). As part of this descent you will ride discrete sections of the track with various names such as: Rameka Track; Pack Track; Historic Rameka Trial; Great Expectations; Two Klick and One Klick.

Once you hit the road follow this for a short amount of time and then look for the track that parallels the road on the left. Once right at the very bottom follow your nose into Takaka.

Here is a Strava file for when I did this ride, starting from SH60 we rode in and took the Canaan Downs track, Gold Creek Loop and then down the Rameka. Total distance 38km for a 3 hour riding time.

Pupu Hydro Walkway

Trek Training NZWhy this is good for your Spring Challenge Training?

This is a great training session to do as a team which is easily accessible from Takaka to give you exposure to either going up or down on steep slippery terrain to build your proprioception and confidence.

A short drive out of Takaka the Pupu Hydro Walkway is a hidden gem. A great run/hike/trek option for your training. It is a loop track that can be done either clockwise or anti-clockwise. I did the track in the anti-clockwise direction. This way takes you up the steeper, rougher track and down the more smoother well maintained track.

To get here drive west through Takaka and turn left having crossed the Takaka river (could this be the raft section for the Spring Challenge?) onto Pupu Valley Road and follow this to the road end.

Head through the ‘track start’ and read some of the history before following the track into the bush. Turn either left or right at the junction and follow the track up the hill. If you have gone right you have a grunty climb up to the water race, then follow the water race along. This is a narrow walkway with a hand rail as you follow the water race which channels water across the side of the hill (these days for power generation but previously for gold mining). This is followed all the way to the weir.

Once at the weir you are then on a better grade of track, but it continues to climb. After a short downhill you will get to a side track that leads to a lookout with a view down the valley. Returning to the main track you have a great descent back to the car park.

All up it is a 6km loop with 200m of climbing. Here is a Strava file from my anti-clockwise loop.

Aorere Gold Fields

Spring Challenge Coaching NZ
Druggan Dam built 1873

Why this is good for your Spring Challenge Training?

This is a great location to train for either trekking or mountain biking to develop your skills and fitness prior to Spring Challenge.

I have put this last in this article to reward those that read this far. Here is my tip: I think this will be included in the Spring Challenge somehow. It is very close to Race HQ and does not require much effort to get from Aorere Gold Fields to Race HQ. It might not be in all distances but expect it in at least one of them.

To get here drive west from Takaka for just over 20km (make a mental note that as you pass Tukurua Road on your right after 17km that this is where Race HQ will be in September) and turn left into Plain Road. Follow this gravel road and turn left sharply onto Devil’s Boots Road. Either park at the Devil’s Boots (large rock formations) or continue further up the river. The river on your right is the Aorere river and I wonder if you may end up rafting or kayaking part of this on event day.

Go through the farm gate and just up on the left you will find a DOC sign. You have a few options here:

  1. You can climb up the track to the caves and do one of a number of short loops (in either direction):
    Adventure Race Coaching
    Water Race
    1. Carry on past the caves up to the dam by following the water race before following the track back down to the road and back to the start by taking the right hand (or most obvious) track;
    2. Carry on past the caves up to the dam before following the track further up to the the road and back to the start by taking the left hand track (which involves more climbing);
    3. Taking the right hand track just prior to Stafford Cave, where you can climb up to the dam via taking the left branch of the track at the next two intersections and then back down to the caves and back to the original start point; or
    4. Taking the right hand track just prior to Stafford Cave, where you can continue to the right and back onto the road.

      Spring Challenge Training
      Split in the track
  2. Climb up to the caves, carry on to the dam by following the water race then after you have gone past the dam take the left track and follow that around and then up onto the 4 Wheel drive road. Turn left and follow this all the way up and over. As you go past the track to the right for the Johnson’s United Battery Track, pause and head down the track a short distance and have a nosey at the mines (see how many you can find as you do not need to go far).
    Hike Training
    Mine Shaft on the Johnson United Battery Track

    Do not bother going down the track to the battery as I highly doubt that the Spring Challenge will go down there, although it is worth the effort. I went down a few weeks ago and there is no sign that anyone has been down there for a few years. It is steep and hard to follow, but it is interesting to see an old stamping battery and imagining what it would have been like all those years ago. After looking at the mines, get back on your bike and carry on up the hill, follow the 4 Wheel drive track for a wee way back through some farm land (with a bit of climbing and descending), eventually making your way back out onto

    Adventure Race Training NZ
    Johnson United Battery

    Plain Road. Turn left and follow the road back to where you parked your vehicle. This is what we did and you can find a Strava link here

There are a number of options in this route for you to explore:

Spring Challenge Coaching
Ballroom Cave
  1. Stafford Cave;
  2. Ballroom Cave (apparently this was used by early miners as a dance club and it is easy to imagine a band in here);
  3. There is a wee side track at Druggan Dam that takes you to the out flow of the dam; and
  4. Mines at Johnson’s United Battery Track.

Take your normal bike gear with you and a descent torch to explore both the caves and the mines. Just be careful at the mines and caves. Particularly the caves can be slippery.

Mountain Bike Training NZBe careful whilst riding.  Some of the puddles are deeper than expected. Although this is a posed photo to show you how deep they can be, do not go riding willy nilly into them.

So here you go.  Here are my best three training activities to do based from Takaka to prepare you and your team mates for the Spring Challenge. Get out there and get amongst it and get your mind and body ready for the challenge that is Spring Challenge.

Launching on Friday 29th July is the ‘8 Weeks to Spring Challenge – Get Your Butt Into Gear Training Programme’, designed for busy Mums and executives who need a simple easy to follow training programme that they can easily do with their team mates.


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