The Rainbow Station and Molesworth Station Cycle trail forms a continuous road from near St Arnaud through to Blenheim and traverses some of the most spectacular alpine scenery the South Island of New Zealand has to offer.
The trail, a relatively well graded, but rough gravel pad with multiple stream crossings, follows the Wairau Hydro Power line Trail which was constructed to service the high tension power lines running through the region.The trail passes through a diverse array of habitats from temperate rainforest communities and typical alpine regions to the drier floodplains of the Northern wine growing areas around Marlborough and Blenheim.
The area represents the largest pastoral lease on the South Island with cattle and sheep grazed all year round.
Several DOC Huts supplied with firewood can be found along the length of the trail and are a welcome relief from the cold alpine nights in the highland areas.
With everything this ride has to offer I would have to recommend it as a must do for anyone seriously riding around the South Island of New Zealand.
Rainbow Station – Cycle Trail
The official start of the Rainbow Station Cycle Trail (from the St Arnaud End) is at the Toll Gate some 20 Km from the Turn Off onto the Wairau – Hanmer Springs Hydro Road around 7 Km North of St Arnaud on the Wairau Valley Highway heading towards Blenheim.
The first 10Km of the Wairau – Hanmer Springs Hydro Road is a leisurely paced, mostly down hill incline, beautifully smooth bitumen road. Unfortunately this ends abruptly in a very rough gravel road that varies in consistency for the next 100 or so Km.
Shortly after this mild disappointment the spectacular scenery refocuses your attention and the condition of the road is soon forgotten.
The photos in this portfolio do little justice to the sheer beauty and magnitude of this environment. The mountains in this region are just enormous and tower above you for the majority of the ride.
For such a mountainous region the gradient of this ride is surprisingly manageable even with full pannier kits as we were carrying at the time. With the exception of a few climbs to various saddles the road is well graded and relatively easy to negotiate.
The river crossings although not long can be problematic in wet conditions and caution and common sense need to be exercised when considering traveling under these conditions.
Molesworth Station – Gallery