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Hanmer Springs News

Hanmer Springs Mountain Bike Trail - St James Cycle Trail

The St James Cycle Trail near Hanmer Springs - the first of the Government-backed "great rides" to be fully completed.

Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson said the 64km-long trail had iconic scenery including river valleys, high-country lakes, beech forest and grassland valleys.

Of the 18 nationally promoted cycle trails, it requires the highest level of experience to complete.

"Experienced mountain bikers are expected to complete the full trail in roughly 10 hours. There are four huts along the way, providing a chance to make a weekend of it," she said.

Ms Wilkinson, who will officially open the trail, said it was the third one to have sections of track available for use, but the first to be completed from start to finish.

The St James Cycle Trail takes in iconic mountain scenery just outside of the alpine and thermal resort of Hanmer Springs - only a 90 minute drive away from Christchurch.

This 64 kilometer mountain bike trail is built on existing DOC trails, 4WD farm tracks and 4 kms of newly built trails and caters to intermediate riders. it includes includes a number of river crossings over newly built bridges, crosses native beech forest, grasslands, mountainous river valleys and also an alpine crossing.

The starting and ending point are accessible by vehicle from the steep gravel Clarence Valley Road out of Hanmer Springs. As the valley opens out turn left onto Tophouse Road. Two options - either park your car at the farm approximately 4km along Tophouse Road (where the St James Great Trail ends) and ride the 25km up TopHouse Road to the trail start proper or continue to drive all the way up Tophouse Road and get someone to bring your can back or link in with a transport option.

The trail then passes Lake Tennyson on the left and climbs about 250 meters as it threads it way through the pass and around Mount Stanley. As you continue around the mountain you will pass Lake Guyon on your left. This is an ideal place to take a short side trip up and have lunch by the lake at Lake Guyon Hut. You will also pass Little Lake and Muddy Lakes as you head south along the Waiau river.

As you turn east there is a climb along the side of Charlie's Hill before the larger climb of about 400 meters over Peter's Pass taking you over the hill and down toward the finish at Tophouse Road again.

After a long day of mountain biking, we bet you'll be keen to enjoy Hanmer Spring's hospitality.

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