Planning is well underway for the first weekend ride of 2017: the Westcoast Wilderness Trail, running between Ross and Greymouth on the West Coast of the South Island. The trip is scheduled for mid-March.
From the NZ Cycle Trail website (West Coast Wilderness Trail)
“In the midst of the Southern Alps on the West Coast lie a series of tracks carved by pioneering gold-miners. Today these old tracks, together with extensive water races, logging tramways and historic railway lines, form the West Coast Wilderness Trail.
This four-day cycling adventure reveals outstanding landscapes of dense rainforest, glacial rivers, lakes and wetlands, with views all the way from the snow-capped mountains of the Southern Alps to the wild Tasman Sea.
The trail starts at Greymouth and traverses Kumara en route to Hokitika before finishing in Ross. Hokitika and Greymouth.
The historic villages of Kumara, Milltown, Kaniere, Ruatapu and Ross provide opportunities to meet the locals on a more personal level and enjoy some good old-fashioned West Coast hospitality.
The majority of the 132km route is an easy ride, catering for all levels of riding abilities, including families.”
A bit OTT perhaps, but you get the picture.
According to the various websites about the Trail, most riders travel from North (Greymouth) to South (Ross). Being a contrary bunch of course 5Men (actually 6Men on this trip – but more about that later) choose to go the other way, travelling from Ross to Greymouth – although as noted below Greymouth may actually be missed as a result of a change in travel arrangements.
Day 1: Hokitika to Ross (33 km):
After a long haul from Wellington via Christchurch (no direct flights to Hokitika) bikes are picked up and a relatively short ride on SH6 South to Ross for the night.
Day 2: Ross to Cowboy Paradise:
First day on the trail proper, to Hokitika for lunch (33 km) then on to the wonderfully-named Cowboy Paradise (36 km).
Day 3: Cowboy Paradise to Kumara (36 km)
A chance to get close to the Southern Alps, but also to ride past a disused water race, old logging trams and pack track through the Kawaka Valley, passing man-made dams and fresh mountain-water weirs.
Day 4: Kumara to Hokitika (36 km)
The original plan was to ride out to the coast, then North to Greymouth, before giving up the bikes and boarding the TranzAlpine Express back to Christchurch, arriving in time to fly back to Wellington.
A recent fire in the foothills of the Southern Alps has taken out several bridges and sections of track however, and all trips are suspended until April while repairs are made.
So the final day sees the group heading out to the coast, then South back to Hokitika, for a flight back to Christchurch then Wellington. Whether Greymouth will be visited is very much dependent on energy levels when arriving at the cross road!
Five become six:
For various reasons I will not be making this trip, but two “newbies” bring the numbers up to six. Both PB and Bern are regular riders on Saturday mornings (Bern a more recent participant than PB), and add new perspectives and experiences for this ride.
Might have to draw lots on who will complete the daily journals for this blog . . .