Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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Nichols Fall Loop

Dunedin, Otago

Submitted by Mike Tennent

Last Updated: 21st Sep 2023

Beginner - Intermediate

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I've done it Done


Grunt Factor: 18 ?

Gnarl Factor: 60 ?








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Trail Map

Type of Run

Urban fringe


Very hilly

Native bush


Open tussock/grasslands

Run Makeup


Easy Single Track

Moderate Single Track

Technical Single Track

Untracked / Route only

Average Uphill Gradient: +14.5%

Average Downhill Gradient: -14.5%


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Estimated Times to Run







Looking from the road, take the entry on the left had side of the road. At first it is lovely park trail, although with a good climbing angle. Stay straight on the main track all the way to the Glowworm area.... unless you are doing this at night there won't be any, so turn around and head back, looking out for the signed trail on your right to the waterfall. Head up that until it meets the bigger trail and turn right. Follow that all the way to the waterfall, ignoring all side trails.

At the waterfall, take a pic or two then carry on that trail down to the side of the stream - after a couple of hundred metres it just peters out. Turn around and head back up and past the waterfall. Heading back along that trail watch out for a trail off to the right. There is no signage, but it is well formed. Head up here and follow this trail ever upwards. You will pass through several long grass areas with no signage, but the trail is pretty easy to follow.

Eventually somewhere around 4km you will come out on the top grassy area, you will know because they will be the best views so far. Keep following the trail for a bit further and it joins a well-formed gravel track. Head right up that until you come to and intersection with some older signs. Follow the track to Swampy Summit, after a while you will reach another sign and this time head onto Swampy Ridge Track. This will probably be true to its name... follow that and just after the crest of the next climb watch out for a small sign on your right for "Moon Tr". Turn right here.

At first there is some lovely running through here, then a mix of nice running and rutted technical trail. You will come to the first intersection with the new MT trail... ignore that and veer right on Moon Trail... then after a bit you reach another intersection with MTB trails. This time drop onto the downhill one and follow it for a bit and it meets a pretty new gravelled downhill MTB... and away you go.

Follow that until you reach a wide track that heads reasonably steeply down the hill (the mtb goes right here)... go down the wide track to the end, At the end there is a green grass paddock left, the uphill MTB right and you take the downhill MTB in the middle. From here there is a bit of flexibility... there are multiple downhill trails that all lead the same place. I kept left, at each choice I veered to the left f it was downhill. After a while this took me onto a short section of grass with a large red arrow and then into a gully... again follow the gully and any of the downhill trackas and it will put you on the road within metres of your vehicle.

Some lovely small waterfalls and Nichols Falls themselves. Plus some great views up top of Dunedin and North.

If you know of any public toilets near the trail start or on the route, please login and then let us know so we can update this section.

Another 50m along the road is parking - on the right hand side for 3 to 4 cars.

11 km

17 minutes





Waterproof leggings, Long-sleeved thermal top, Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Gloves, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival bag, Cellphone, Map

Streams and streamlets abound

Could get very slippery and muddy in winter... and possibly snow up top

The downhill is the trickiest of this, quite a few areas and wet and muddy and steep, calling for care.

Trail Legend


Daniel Pettigrew

has completed Nichols Fall Loop twice in the last year.

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Trail Reviews

Great fun! Lots of stop and checking the GPX for me, but it’s mostly obvious where to go. I did run into one section of dense gorse on a very rutted section just as you descend through the bush line on moon track. Maybe it would’ve been better to stay on the main trail. Running down the MTB trails was an absolute blast.

Tom Brennan

July 8, 2023

Lots of birds along the way and the downhill was quite fun, although not well sign posted and we got slightly away from the 'regular trail' and ran down the MTB trails.

Stewie Stuart

November 7, 2022

Great trail, did it right after a few days of rain so was a bit muddy and slippery in places but not as bad as expected to be honest! Loved exploring this loop as had never done these trails - the moon trail was a treat! I found some of the directions a bit confusing but just followed by nose and found my way overall.

Holly Barclay

June 25, 2021

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