A guide to off leash dog walking trails in the Tasman – Part 2

If there is one thing this recent world-wide period of change and uncertainty has impressed upon me, it is a renewed gratitude for the simple joys in life. For me, one of those most important and simplest of these joys is my daily run with my six year old Border Collie, Maggie.

My sense of gratitude for this particular daily ritual was further reinforced when, for a period last year, it looked like my running companion would need to retire for health reasons. If you will excuse the boasting for a moment, Maggie and I ran over 2,500km together in 2020. We ran almost every day along the tracks, beaches and trails I highlighted in the previous edition of this magazine.

Then in the middle of 2021 Maggie started having these weird ‘turns’ only a few hundred metres into our runs. She would go through a brief period of euphoria, running around like a puppy with the zoomies before she lost all coordination much like somebody who has had far too many beersies. 

Her front legs would fold in and I would need to pick her up and carry her back to my truck. I stopped taking her on my runs for a few months but then took her on a short trial run of only a couple of kms, which seemed to go well. Then later that night she had a severe fit, during which her body went as rigid as a board, her tongue stuck out, she frothed from the mouth and lost control of her bodily functions. For what was probably only 45 seconds but felt much longer, I lay on the floor trying to comfort her in what I believed would be her final moments. 

When it finally ended I was so relieved I didn’t care that her teeth had collided with my forehead as she came to and I now had blood streaming down my face. This event confirmed that not only was Maggie incontinent, something she has taken medication for since she was about a year old, and on top of being more than vaguely neurotic, and showing obsessive compulsiveness, my best mate was also epileptic. This was further confirmation that, as the saying goes, pets are a good reflection on their owners and just like me, Maggie is ‘a bit special’ or in the modern vernacular; ‘is somewhere on the spectrum’. When Maggie first went onto her epilepsy medication she was so docile she wasn’t even keen on going for a walk, much less a 7-10km run. But gradually she returned to her old self, minus the fits and episodes, and since January 2022 we have been back running together. She is just as excited as ever when we start our run, when she does a couple of pre-run pirouettes, high-fives me with her teeth and then jumps up and nips me on a bum cheek, like any good sheep dog, when we get going. I’m clearly not the only one who enjoys this daily ritual. Lately, we’ve been trying to find some new trails on which we can both be free of speeding vehicles and dog-phobic, high-vis-vest-wearing, angry Baby Boomers screaming at us to “watch out for the penguins!”



It has taken a while for Richmond to grow on me. At great risk of offending everybody who lives there and loves the place, I once found Richmond a bit, um, dull.

Now, before you hit me with a slew of hate mail, let me say that I think my relationship with Richmond has turned a corner and I can see it does have redeeming qualities, one of which is its many pedestrian trails. My favourite route runs from the Richmond bypass along the coastline all the way to Best Island. Maggie and I usually do the bit in the middle, from the end of Fittal Street deep in the Richmond industrial zone, along the coast until we hit Lower Queen Street.

After running along with the coast on one side and some paddocks on the other the trail comes to Headingly Lane which is open to cars. It’s a quiet little back street so doesn’t usually have many, if any, cars to be avoided. The creek running beside the road is where Maggie usually likes to stop for a quick swim whether it is 25 or 2 degrees Celsius. A sharp right-hand turn has you back on the trail for a short time before you encounter Sandeman Reserve past which is a walkway over the estuary. This walkway has a surface of some rough industrial-type resin covering that makes it completely non-slip. However, it must also be something akin to medieval torture for Maggie’s paws because she will stop as soon as she feels it, prance about for a few seconds as if she is walking on broken glass before bailing over the side to run through the mud. We turn once we hit the main drag to avoid the traffic running parallel to the road, to run back to my truck for a run of a bit over 7km.


The Richmond Ranges is an area I have been meaning to explore forever. As a forest park rather than a national park, dogs are allowed in the area although some areas require a dog permit from DOC.

We recently drove up the Aniseed Valley, which runs up into the hills from Hope, for the first time. In myexperience this type of exploratory running can go one of two ways. The most common outcome is that I runthe first part of a track and then it quickly becomes more of a rugged trail better suited to walking. The secondthing I can discover is a fantastic running track that seems to go on forever and I become quite disappointedin myself for not having discovered it years ago. The track up to Whispering Falls fell into the second category.The Hacket Track starts out as a forestry road but quickly becomes a well-formed, narrow but very runnabletrack following the creek. The bridge at the confluence of Hacket Creek and Miners River, about 1km shy ofWhispering Falls, was washed out when we went up so we turned there and ran back. The crossing does notlook dangerous and is the sort of thing you would do twenty times a day when on a long tramp, but it wasmidwinter when we were up there and there had just been a decent dump of rain. If I don’t get to it sooner it’lldefinitely be a priority to hit it again in summer when the river crossing will become a swim.


I always find myself amazed at how close New Zealand’s cities and towns are to wilderness areas.

This might be the result of having lived in cities like
Shanghai and Sydney for so many years, where the
nearest area anybody could possibly put into the same
sentence as wilderness was several hours drive away.
Although we’ve been living back in NZ for over ten years I am still constantly amazed that our populated areas are so close to remote hills and heavy bush. Anyway, I don’t know why it took me so long to work out that there is a wonderful trail from the Nelson CBD up the Maitai Valley. But this recent discovery was another hallelujah moment for me during which I realised that many awesome parts of Nelson Tasman remain undiscovered to me despite the fact they are right in front of my face.

Even though the section of the trail I ran recently starts right in the middle of Nelson, at Miller’s Acer Carpark, the bits of track beside the road are on quiet, low-speed laneways. The Maitai River Walkway follows the river, winding along with pedestrian underpasses under the road at various points and past a number of lovely green space areas on both sides of the Maitai. The track is unsealed once you hit Nile Street but is still well-formed and well-maintained. It passes the quirkily named Girlies, Black Hole and Sunday swimming holes, through some areas planted out in native trees to a small car park on Maitai Valley Road.


When I’ve only got time for a quick run, I head to the walkway between Wharf Road and Old Wharf Road in Motueka.

The trail became a loop in 2012 when the path along Wharf Road was completed. This section of the track does run along a stretch of open road but there is a low bank and some greenery between the pathway and the road to dissuade your dog from running among the traffic. Aside from a short section along Wharf Road on the northern side, which also runs beside the road for a short distance, the rest of the trail winds along both sides of the inlet. The surface is hard packed gravel and being lined by mature trees on the eastern side, is mostly well sheltered from the wind. From the western side
you will get wonderful views of the Arthur Range to the west. The fantastic local group, Keep Motueka Beautiful, continue to plant out the western side of the inlet and create more trails that can be incorporated into a free-spirited and random running route if you ever tire of simply running the loop

Words & Photography by Brendan Alborn
Owner Operator

Brendan has a long association with the Abel Tasman, visiting it for the first time when his parents moved to Marahau in 1997. After spending much of his life overseas, Brendan and his family moved to the area at the end of 2010. When Brendan is not spending his time in the outdoors he seems to spend much of his time creating even flimsier justifications for spending more time in the outdoors.

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