After a night of rain, we woke to no rain. Which was a pleasant surprise. The forest was dripping but the sky was blue. It looked like we were off to a lucky start for our three-day ride. Before heading off from our overnight stop at Lake Kaniere I made a quick dash back to the lake that had been so gloomy the evening before. What a contrast.
We headed off to Ross, south of Hokitika. For us, this would be the start of the West Coast Wilderness Trail. We were doing it the wrong way; at least the majority go the other way, starting in Greymouth. We all concluded that ‘backwards’ was a better way to go.
From Ross we headed on our bikes out of town towards the coast. There was a cold southerly blowing but we soon turned north and had it at our backs. It was a straight drag up the coast towards Lake Mahinapua along an old railway formation. It was slightly downhill with a good tail wind; an ideal start.
Once we were near Lake Mahinapua we left the coast and backtracked slightly inland on SH6 to pass to the east of the lake; the lake which we never actually saw. But we did find the coffee shop at the Treetops Walk. Interestingly this was our only trail-side coffee stop for the whole three days.
After a short road ride, we headed off on our first real forest section, along an old tram line that had originally been used to extract timber. It was simply stunning.
Then we came to The Bridge of No Return.We’d been reading a few signs warning that a bridge was out of action; until either the 9th of October or the 13th. We were pleased it was the 15th because otherwise we’d have had to miss the lovely Tram Track section. Just before the bridge we met someone going the other way who said the bridge was still closed, so the signs were wrong. But he’d managed to manhandle his bike across so we decided to try the same thing. The alternative was a long haul back into the wind and a long section on SH6.
We manhandled our bikes and ourselves across the bridge; the e-bikes were a bit of a heave. And helped a family caught out the same way. We wondered why the Hokitika Information Centre hadn’t mentioned the day before that the signs were wrong but I eventually discovered that they hadn’t known either.
From there it wasn’t far to SH6, with a short section on the highway before we headed off past the golf course, still with the wind at our backs. Then it was across the bridge over the Hokitika River and into Hokitika for a look at the sea and lunch.
From here we headed inland, upriver to Kaniere and then inland towards Lake Kaniere. We still had the wind mostly at our backs. There was a road section before the trail headed off around water races and through more fabulous forest. This was the second highlight of the day.
Soon enough we emerged from the forest near our accommodation at Lake Kaniere. Then we just had to retrieve our transport and rest our weary muscles and seats. It’d been an interesting day with lots of history of goldfields and timber milling and railway lines and wetlands and shipwrecks and power schemes, almost 60 kms all together. But it was the trails through the forest that will stay with us the longest.
West Coast Circuit Gallery 2017