|   Rate it:

Level: Intermediate
Length: 70 mi (112.7 km)
Surface: Other
Configuration: One-way
Elevation: -
Total: 4 riders

Mountain Biking Rainbow Trail

***   Add a review
#158 of 387 mountain bike trails in New Zealand
#8,392 in the world

This is a 112km (70 mile) remote back-country cycle touring route mainly on a gravel road.. It is normally only open from Boxing Day to Easter Monday.

Here is a description of the route taken from http://www.nzcycletrail.com/rainbow-trail...

"The Rainbow Trail starts approximately 9 km east of St Arnaud at the Rainbow Road turn-off on State Highway 63. The trail starts with a sealed section of road that winds its way to the Old Rainbow Homestead and toll gate where you will pay the $2 fee during the open season. Permission for access is required outside the open season.

"Beyond the old Rainbow Homestead and toll gate the Rainbow experience really begins. The trail fords a number of streams and crosses a bridge over the Wairau River before entering 'Hell's Gate', a scenic narrow gorge. You'll find the Coldwater Creek campsite just above the gorge and the boundary between Rainbow and Molesworth stations is just a little further on from there.

"The turn off to the Sedgemere Sleepout is located just after the trail recrosses the Wairau - it's a few hundred metres down a side road off the trail. A short detour past the sleepout carpark will provide you with a spectacular view over several high country lakes.

"Island Saddle marks the highest point on this route and the boundary between Marlborough and Canterbury. Not far from Island Saddle, a further detour (3 km) will take you to Lake Tennyson, a scenic lake formed by a glacial moraine dam - and an ideal spot for a picnic.

"Approaching Hanmer Springs there is a 3-way intersection at the top of Jacks Pass. If you're keen for more cycling, continue left here on to the Molesworth Muster Trail, a 207 km cycle trail through Molesworth Station to Blenheim. Though you might want to stop in Hanmer to restock supplies first.

"Heading right down Clarence Valley Road, you'll enjoy a long downhill into the Hanmer Springs township and a soak in the famous hot thermal springs."

The route is used for a celebrated annual mountain bike race called the Rainbow Rage. http://www.rainbowrage.co.nz. The photos on Singletracks were taken during this event a few years ago.

First added by Jim Cummings on Feb 16, 2015. Last updated Apr 30, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
You can start from either end, that is, from Saint Arnaud or from Hanmer Springs. It's more usually started from Saint Arnaud to take advantage of a slight altitude difference and the prevailing winds.
Saint Arnaud is in the Upper Wairau Valley, 85 km from Nelson or 131 km from Picton via Blenheim. Hanmer Springs is located 134 km north of Christchurch. Both ends are reachable by bus.
I Rode It!   Add to another list

Rainbow Trail Trail map

Add to or improve this map // Share this map on your website

Local Info

Club Sponsor


Trail checkins

Brent Leslie (on Jan 14, 2019)
What's this?

Upcoming Events

Add one

Trail conditions

Dry (on Feb 16, 2015)
login to update

Camping & Lodging

Coming soon!

Rainbow Trail videos

Add a video
We don't have any videos of this trail yet. Add one here.

Mountain Bike Trails Near Hanmer Springs, New Zealand

Intermediate | 18 mi

Rider questions

Add a review



  • Jim Cummings

    This is a back-country sub-alpine gravel road cycle touring route normally ridden in two days. It is generally ridden for the remote high country experience and the challenge. The other reason is for the excitement and fellowship of hundreds of other idiots in the annual Rainbow Rage!!

    Reply | Thank