Teetotal-Big Bush Trail Area
The Teetotal-Big Bush Trail Area is located just west of St Arnaud. Over the last decade a trail network has been developed by the MTB Trails Trust, which includes a number of trails of varying length and difficulty. The trails begin on Teetotal Flats, which are former river terraces of the Buller River, and climb through the beautiful beech forest of Big Bush Conservation Area. Big Bush is a 15,660 ha expanse of original native forest, consisting primarily of hard beech and red beech, with podocarps like miro and rimu also present. Big Bush was described by surveyor Charles Hursthouse in 1859 as a ‘black forest region unfit for man or domestic beast’, and to this day it remains largely untouched.
Teetotal Flat car park and camp site is located 2 min west of St Arnaud along State Highway 63 (St Arnaud is 74 km south of Nelson). See Access tab below. At the car park there are toilets and an information panel displaying a map and trail details. The car park is also used for the nearby ice skating rink.
You can also reach the car park from St Arnaud by following the track that begins at Rotoiti Lodge Road and travels through kānuka bush alongside the State Highway 63, around the base of Black Hill.
|Skating Pond Loop||Sidewinder||Rattler Rim||Kaka Track|
|Big Bush Track||Flying Moa||Rocky Horror||Duck Down|
Skating Pond Loop
An easy loop track starting and finishing at Teetotal Flats car park. The track heads northwest across the grass flats and through patches of matagouri and kānuka trees, and completes a loop around the ice skating pond. It can be completed in either direction and is suited to both biking and trail running.
Sidewinder Track makes it its way through beech, kānuka and grass clearings. It can be completed in either direction and is it suited to both biking and trail running. There are some tight technical bits and a few small creek crossings but the track is good fun. The western end gives access to the bottom of Flying Moa and then links to Teetotal Road, which you can follow eastward back to Skating Pond Loop and the car park.
Rattler Rim heads provides easy travelling between Douglas Hill and the western end of Sidewinder. It winds through clumps of manuka trees and grass clearings above an old terrace of the Buller River. The eastern end connects to Skating Pond Loop.
Kaka Track provides the most straight-forward access to Big Bush Track and the other downhill tracks that descend from the ridge. The track climbs though beautiful beech forest with mossy undergrowth and you are likely to see Fantails, Tomtits and South Island Robins, which are all increasing in numbers thanks to the possum and mustelid control programme by DOC. The track is well-graded and suitable for walking and riding. You can use it for both ascending and descending the ridge, though those doing the latter should be cautious of others coming uphill. At the junction with Big Bush Track (830 m elevation) you can head left for 500 m to join Flying Moa, or head right for 1.7 km to reach Rocky Horror and Duck Down.
Big Bush Track
Big Bush Track is the DOC original tramping track that traversed the ridge that runs parallel to Teetotal Flats, with all other recently developed MTB trails branching off it. It is an integral part of any circuit in the trail area. The track heads along the ridge through the beech forest and enters plantation forest at the western end. The track can be very muddy in winter or after rain. Kaka Track gives the most straight-forward access to Big Bush Track from the car park. You can reach the western end of Big Bush Track via Sidewinder, Rattler Rim or Teetotal Road.
Flying Moa descends from Big Bush Track to link with the western end of Sidewinder. It is an intermediate-grade track that winds downhill through lush beech forest, and aside from a few technical turns it shouldn’t pose too many dramas for most riders. It is certainly an easier way to descend from Big Bush Track than via Rocky Horror or Duck Down.
Combine Flying Moa with Kaka Track and Sidewinder or Rattler Rim to form a nice loop.
Descending from Big Bush Track, Rocky Horror certainly lives up to its name. The expert-grade track is essentially a creek bed in parts and bare clay and mossy surfaces providing a very slippery surface in anything other than bone-dry conditions. You can reach Rocky Horror via Kaka Track and Big Bush Track.
The track descends through kānuka trees and a section of beech forest. Pick your line wisely as small boulders and narrow ruts can give you a lot of grief. The condition of the track is fairly consistent the whole way down. The downhill end links back up with Skatepond Loop Track on the flats.
Duck Down is an advanced-grade single track that descends from Big Bush Track to link with Skating Pond Loop. The track difficulty varies between intermediate and advanced through its length, but it is a little less gnarly than Rocky Horror.
You can reach Duck Down via Kaka Track and Big Bush Track. The initial section is pretty flat before the descent begins, about 200 m in. The descent through kānuka trees is technical and narrow, and does allow for some smooth riding. The track transitions into less dense beech forest and passes through some clearings with views across to Lake Rotoiti and Mt Robert. The remaining distance to the flats below is steeper, with some tight corners and rocky patches to work through.