This amazingly varied one day back-country ride starts way up in the Takaka Hills goes down through forest and scrub to the village of Takaka some 800 metres (2600 feet) below. It is the best ride of its type in the upper South Island. Most riders start it from the Takaka Hill Road and that's where my GPS trace starts.
I left my car at the Golden Bay Coachlines yard in Takaka, caught the Nelson bus and got off just over the top of the Takaka Hill at Canaan Road. It cost $30 including bike. (http://goldenbaycoachlines.co.nz) The trail comes out near Takaka so it was a short road ride back to the car at the end.
The ride up Canaan road is a good warm up if nothing else. After about 8 or 9 kilometres you arrive at Canaan Downs, a large area of pasture. Part way through the pastures at a cattle stop you'll come to a sign pointing to the "Canaan Loop". Take it. It's a gem of a little ride that will take you to the car park at the end of the road where you'll find two toilets, a tap with water and a map board.
At the map you'll see that the Canaan Loop is a large intermediate loop that continues on and goes past the start of the Rameka Track. There is another loop there that is also quite pleasant called the Gold Loop. It is easy and takes less than an hour.
To find the Rameka Track and your way back to Takaka go through the gate beyond the car park where the sign says, "Canaan Loop". It takes you up a four wheel track where you'll soon see the sign pointing left to the Rameka Track.
Immediately you'll find yourself on nice singletrack in beech forest. It's awesome! Challenging at some of the bouldery creeks but generally mild although technical enough to keep you alert most of the way. You don't often get singletrack this good through native forest. Before long you're going down-slope, in places quite steep.
After perhaps an hour you come to a sign "Pack Track" as you emerge from the beech forest. Things get even more interesting. The Pack Track is great, initially fast and airy, then more technical, then wow! exposure on the left - but only for a while.
By now you'll be smiling from ear to ear and thinking it can't get any better. Well, it doesn't, but it doesn't get any worse either. It changes again as you enter the area called the Rameka Project. Soon you're on a sweet, sweet track called Great Expectations through a pine forest. It's fast and flowy. And goes on and on; down and down.
Eventually you'll reach the gravel road - Rameka Valley Road - but the fun starts all over again... This time with a couple of really neat singletracks that run down beside the road, called the Clicks. The first one is really technical but not savage; the second one is quite rocky - almost like Moab - and it's fun too.
But there's more... Another track beside the road. At one point you have to make the hard decision between a branch called Jazz and a branch called Rock 'n' Roll. Not being a jazz fan, I took Rock 'n' Roll. Actually, it didn't rock; nor did it roll, but it was a minor symphony. Finally... no more singletrack.
Takaka is only a few cruisy kilometers away on gravel, and then sealed roads. Don't go past the dairy opposite the supermarket without stopping for an icecream. They're good. But after riding the Rameka track nothing could be bad. The whole package was amazingly varied. Exactly what a back-country ride should be.