Wild Things - New Zealand's trail running community
New Zealand's trail running community


don't have an account?

Maitai Cave Track, Nelson

Trail Directory proudly supported by Further Faster

Update Your Header Picture

Maitai Cave TrackBeginner - Intermediate

Submitted by Anne-Louise Robertson

Info Info
Map Loading

Trail Information





Tasman and Nelson


Front country - easily accessible

Out and Back

Undulating, small hills only

Native bush

Beginner - Intermediate

2:00 (Slow)
1:30 (Moderate)
1:00 (Fast)



Some of the trails in this area were closed when we did this in December 2019. At the time of writing all trails are closed due to fire risk. There are a couple of river crossings which would be impassable after heavy rain.

Download PDF Guide

Fastest Known Times (FKTs)

Please set your gender to see your position on the FKT leaderboards.


Show more


Show more

Filter FKTs

The more , the harder the FKT will be to beat. Learn about Fastest Known Times.

Missing your time?

Register or login as a VIP and get yourself on the FKT leaderboard!

Register Now


Starting at the Maitai Dam, this trail takes you for 3kms or so along a really runnable, undulating trail - some on single track but a little bit on gravel road. Then you hit a river crossing. This would be impassable during or immediately after heavy rain!

The trail from here on in is very gnarly, lots of tree roots, narrow, greasy and at some points the stream may flow along it. The path climbs following the river through beautiful woodland. After a couple of kms (less than the signs indicated) we arrived at Maitai Cave. You can explore the cave but will need a torch and be reasonably confident underground. There is a steep climb down over greasy, muddy boulders - you can use the rope that is belayed around the rock that wedged across the entrance but I would not rely on it! You land in an ankle-deep stream at the bottom which emerges from a small opening directly ahead. It's possible to get in to where the stream emerges and crawl into a short passage that only goes a few metres. To the right, there is a climb over more boulders to quite a high aven.

Return to the car park via the same route.

Trail Community

Find people who are interested in this run.

You must register or login to view this content.

Features of interest

Starts at a dam. Maitai Cave is apparently the only place in New Zealand where you can find the very rare ngataana snail

Make Up of Run

Untracked / Route only: 10%

Technical Single Track: 40%

Easy Single Track: 40%

Gravel Road: 10%

Route Data


You must register or login to view this content.

Overlapping Runs

The following trails overlap with this run to some degree. You may wish to combine them but please note that to qualify for FKTs on these runs you should record a separate Strava activity for each

Coppermine Climb

Coppermine Climb

Length: 19.00km

Dun Mountain Loop

Dun Mountain Loop

Length: 32.30km


You must register or login to view this content.

Your Trail Wishlist

All the runs that are on your To Do list (no limit).

Add to wishlist view wishlist

Your Trail Dreamlist

The runs you most want to do (limited to 10).

Add to dreamlist view dreamlist

Wild Explorers

I did it!
  • Access

    The run to Maitai Cave begins at Maitai Dam, which is 11 km up Maitai Valley from central Nelson.

    You can use the first car park just after the Maungatapu Track turnoff, or the second car park a few hundred metres further, on the other side of the dam spillway (note that the gate is closed to the latter car park at 5 pm). Maitai Cave Track forks off Dun Mountain Trail, which is accessed via the pedestrian bridge between the two car parks.

    13 km

    26 minutes



  • Staying Safe


    Once in the forest over the river, the trail is quite overgrown and so you need to keep an eye out for the markings.


    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 blanket, Cellphone, Map, Headtorch and spare batteries.

    Plenty of access to river water but not drinking water

    Extremely muddy after rain.
    Some parts could be impassable.

    River crossing
    Erosion on some path areas along the river

  • Post run indulgence

    East Street Eats
    Awesome Vegan food and very cool vibe

    The Boat Shed Cafe
    Excellent cheese scones and great coffee

  • Blog Posts and Articles
  • Sponsor this trail

    If you are interested in learning about sponsorship opportunities, please get in touch below:


Got a favourite trail? Tell us about it.

Share the love and add your favourite trail(s) to our growing trail directory.

Submit A Trail

Become a member today

Start enjoying the many benefits to becoming a member of our thriving community.

Become a member

Great brands at great prices with our VIP member's discount

Stay up to date

Sign up to our newsletter for latest offers and trail guides

Share this trail with a friend:

VIP Membership

Please register as a VIP or login to your VIP account to view this content.

Cancel Login Register

Membership Required

You can see up to three trail guides without being logged in but after that we require you to be logged in to your Free or VIP account. If you don’t yet have an account you can register here.

Login Register