The West Coast, New Zealand is shaping up to be the ideal destination for Mountain Bikers. Whether you’re looking for an easy scenic trail or a multi-day backcountry mission, you are bound to find something to suit. With the addition of the full Paparoa Track, opening on the 1st of March, we thought it was time to summarise the various rides up for offer on the West Coast.
The Old Ghost Road
A rugged backcountry adventure for experienced mountain bikers, the Old Ghost Road is New Zealand’s longest continuous single track. The trail was resurrected from an old gold miners route between Lyell in the Upper Buller Gorge to Seddonville. Part of the Nga Haerenga – The New Zealand Cycle Trail network, the track can be ridden all year round. Accommodation is a flat rate of $150 to stay at your choice of the 6 huts/campsites along the way. Which is bonus for those who want to spend more nights on the track, as it won’t cost you any extra! Our advice is make the most of it, as it’s an absolutely stunning part of the country.
Image credit: Tourism New Zealand
The Paparoa Track
The Paparoa Track is New Zealand’s newest Great Walk, and the first to be designed as a shared use track for both cyclists and walkers. As with the Old Ghost Road, the Paparoa Track is designed for experienced riders, with a mixture of long, steep climbs, narrow track and exposed track in places. Crossing the Paparoa mountain ranges between the small ex-mining town of Blackball and the coastal tourist village of Punakaiki, this track offers breathtaking views of the South Island’s West Coast. The Department of Conservation are in their final stages of construction and the full track is due to be opened to the public on the 1st of March 2020. Hut fees are $45 a night.
Click here to book your shuttles.
Image credit: Department of Conservation
The West Coast Wilderness Trail
True to its name, the West Coast Wilderness Cycle Trail showcases some of New Zealand’s most rugged coastlines, wild landscapes and dramatic alpine views, all on some of the smoothest trails in country. So if your after a scenic cruisey ride, then this ones for you.
Starting from either Ross or Greymouth, you will cycle alongside picturesque lakes and historic water races, experience the charm of old gold mining and timber milling towns and explore some of the country’s most exceptional wetlands, where you might even see a native kōtuku (white heron)!
Cycle Journeys offers a range of self-guided package tours, bike hire, shuttles, luggage transfer and accommodation along the trail.
The Heaphy Track
As with the Paparoa Track, the Heaphy Track is also a Great Walk and a shared use track. Note: Mountain bikers are only permitted May to November, so embrace the winter riding! Located at the top of the West Coast in the Kahurangi National Park, the scenery does not disappoint. You will experience dense beech forests, expansive tussock plains, limestone cliffs along the Heaphy River, nikau palm groves and white sandy beaches along the West Coast.
The Heaphy is an intermediate to advanced ride. However, most riders who have ridden both the Old Ghost Road and the Heaphy tracks describe the Heaphy as a less technical and more rideable trail the whole way through. If the track is wet, it makes it a much more advanced ride. The track can be ridden in either direction, however most ride from Brown Hut (about 34 kilometres from Collingwood), finishing on the West Coast at Karamea. Hut fees for the 6 huts/campsites along the way are $34 a night bookable through DOC.
Image credit: Department of Conservation
Kawatiri Coastal Trail
Funding has been awarded to build the Kawatiri Coastal Trail that will connect the West Coast coastal towns of Westport and Charleston. This grade 2, family-friendly cycle and walking heritage trail will provide stunning coastal landscapes, native plants and animals, and extensive Māori and European history.
The Charleston-Westport Coastal Trail Trust who are driving the project are aiming to have the trail open in the middle of 2021. What this space!
Image credit: Kawatiri Coastal Trail
The Pike 29 Memorial Track
The Pike 29 Memorial Track will be an extension to the Paparoa Track Great Walk. Built off the tops, to link with the Pike River mine head, the 10.8km side track is under construction and will provide access to the Pike River mine portal and the memorial to the 29 miners who died in the 2010 explosion. This track can be either an in and out return to the tops, or an alternate start or finish to the Paparoa Track itself. The opening date for this track is still to be confirmed, however, from what we have seen the wait will be well worth it!
Image credit: Tom Woodward Videos