A few spare days during some recent holidays saw us heading to Greymouth and the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail. Here’s the story!
I love the West Coast of the South Island. You can be immersed in some of the densest bush New Zealand has to offer, all within a few hours drive from Christchurch. Now, imagine someone cuts a cycle path through that dense bush. That is basically the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail!
It’s part of the New Zealand cycle trail network that runs from Greymouth to Ross, which is around 132km in total.
With the weather forecast for near-perfect conditions, we opened the CamperMate app and set course for Greymouth to ride the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail.
Gearing up for the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail
I personally hadn’t biked more than 5 km total in the last three months, so was a little wary about how I would fare on this ride. We called in to the local sports shop in Greymouth and bought a few spare bike tubes and the owner let us use the bike pump to inflate the tyres.
There were four of us on the trip, and we each had a backpack with the bare essentials. We’d booked ahead at the Cowboy Paradise, which served up dinner and breakfast. So, we only really had to worry about snacks along the way.
Starting off on the Trail
The start of the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail leading out of Greymouth was on a gravel path alongside the river toward the sea at Blaketown. You meander past some of the old wharf relics like cranes and structures. So, it’s a nice gentle cruise to start you off and make sure everything is running smoothly.
Once you hit Blaketown you ride parallel to the coast, until you cross the Taramakau River bridge. There, you’ll head slightly inland for Kumara. This inland section is mostly through thick bush and past muddy bogs, at this point it’s still mainly flat.
The weather was perfect, sunny yet still a slight breeze to keep the temperature down. Soon enough you find yourself at the back of Kumara, a small town with a population of 309. Here you can fill up your water bottles, and stop by the local dairy if needed.
Leaving Kumara, the track starts to get slightly narrower and winds around pine trees as you head toward Dillmans Dam. This is a beautiful water reservoir which you can swim in. The water is really clear and pretty inviting.
By this stage we were starting to wonder if we would make it on time to the Cowboys Paradise Lodge in time for the dinner at 7 pm. So, we pushed on, aware of an hour or so of climbing still to come.
It’s an interesting part of the trip, as you find yourself passing these canals which have the clearest water imaginable.
Cowboys Paradise on the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail
We arrived at Cowboys Paradise at 6.30 pm and met Mike the owner. He’s a real character that has been building this place up for 15 years. The rooms were awesome, and the showers were amazing.
If you are doing the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail trip I definitely recommend staying here. At around 8.30 pm the sun hid behind the mountains, and the sandflies came out, so it was time to retreat!
Day 2, West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail
The next day is one of the best parts of the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail. If you’re heading toward Hokitika, you’ll cruise down the farm path next to cows and then onto a gravel road, eventually ending up at Lake Kaniere.
As you hit the lake, you’ll see a 15 minute DOC track, which you can take your bike on.
There are toilets at Lake Kaniere and a couple of picnic tables. So, it’s a good spot for a lunch break before starting the last stint. It’s also a pretty good spot for a swim! If you go past the picnic tables just around the left you’ll find a small beach.
Final Stint on the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail
The last section (for us anyway) was to Hokitika, and again the majority of this section was passing through a nice bush track.
It goes from a track onto the asphalt road, which you’ll ride along for the last 15kms or so. Right after that, you arrive in Hokitika.
If you’ve got time, spend a few hours going to the local museum and the beach. It’s a great spot, Hokitika. From there, you can catch your pre-arranged shuttle back to Greymouth Top 10 park at 2.30 pm.
All in all, the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail an awesome trip. It’s not too hard, you’ll spend some time in the bush, and probably meet some characters along the way. If you have a few days and are keen for an adventure, give it a go!