Photo Credits: Gary Patterson – Great Rides App
Riding the Paparoa Track – Pororari Hut Day Trip
We truly are making the most of the open sections of the Paparoa Track. A few weeks ago our founder, Geoff Gabites rode the Moonlight Tops side of the track from Blackball. This time our West Coast Manager, Dave Ritchie set off from the Punakaiki side for a day ride up to Pororari Hut. Here’s his story of his ride…
One of the problems (the key problem really) when reading someone else’s description of a ride in order to gain some meaningful information about it is that you have no real idea of what kind of a rider that person is. When they say “stiff climb”, what does that actually mean?
So – let’s begin with an introduction. I (50 something year old male, enjoys beer as much as riding) recently rode from the Waikori Road trailhead of the (almost) newly minted Paparoa Track up to Pororari Hut, a vertical gain of around 500m over roughly 17km of 100% rideable, beautifully constructed trail.
I rode in the company of a group of 30 to 40 year old mothers from Hokitika – best described as active and healthy enthusiastic recreators with varying degrees of “technical skill” on the bike (no one jumps their bike through the air, bunny hops and wheelies are not really part of the programme, switchback corners are approached with as much trepidation as concentration).
So we are a bunch of enthusiastic recreators with full modern full suspension bikes, but no one here is wearing full face helmets or riding with their hair on fire and adrenaline coursing through their veins.
How technically hard is the riding?
Not at all. The trail construction is so good that you rarely ride across rocks larger than golf balls and for 90% of the time you are rolling on smooth gravel with moderate corners and climbing grades. Congratulations to the track builders who laboured so hard on this!
How physically hard is it?
We took a total of 5 hours (3 up and 2 down), including a sandwich and a sit down at the top and multiple “stop and chat” breaks on the way up and down. So you need to be able to ride for that long. The climbs were certainly near the limit of what we could sustain for periods of time. However, none of us are above walking our bikes for a while if need be.
The initial climb out and over the first saddle is a bit of a lung buster, but it is over mercifully quickly and the following descent into the Pororari River is gorgeous. It sort of “slingshots” you into the fabulous riding up towards Watson Creek and the Upper Pororari Bridge (cracker swim spot!). This section of gently graded riding was the highlight for us – just a beautiful way to travel through such iconic NZ forest and it seems to comprise the bulk of the ride.
The climb from the Upper Pororari Bridge to the hut is……there is no denying it….. sweaty and puffy, no matter how fit you are. But again, it’s not that far and even the member of our group who walked a good chunk of it was only 10 minutes behind us arriving at the hut.
How fun is it?
Turning for home and rolling down the climb was just a ball! Flowing trail, good visibility, easy corners and good surface. Woop Woop! Of course there is the sting in the tail of climbing up to the saddle towards the end, but the reward of the final downhill more than makes up for it. The final stanza is ridiculously good fun – again, kudos to the DOC trail teams.
To conclude, this has to rate as one of the better adventure day rides out there. Easy logistics, super scenic, technically very moderate, big fun factor and excellent beer and chips at the Barrytown Pub!
Dave Ritchie – Paparoa Shuttles