Into The Wilderness – West Coast Bike Trail

West Coast Wilderness TrailAfter 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.

Lake Kaniere looking gorgeous

Lake Kaniere looking gorgeous

Lake Kaniere

Lake Kaniere

Lake Kaniere

First sun at Lake Kaniere – I’m not sure I meant to take this one but I like the effect anyway.

Lake Kaniere

Lake Kaniere

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.

Start line at Ross

The start line at Ross

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.

Totara River bridge

Wyn on the Totara River bridge heading up the coast

Heading up the trail

Heading up the trail

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.

Treetops Walk Cafe

Coffee in the sun at the Treetops Walk cafe

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.

Old tram line near Lake Mahinapua

Old tram line near Lake Mahinapua

Bush trail abstract

My abstract photo for the day – called ‘Forest Ride’. Entirely accidental.

Old tram line near Lake Mahinapau

Old tram line near Lake Mahinapau. There was lots of Rimu and Totara and Kahikatia and moss  …

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.

The Bridge of No Return

Traversing The Bridge of No Return

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.

Wreck at mouth of Hokitika River

Wreck at the mouth of Hokitika River. Note the trees growing sideways.

Looking up the Hokitika River from the mouth up towards Lake Kaniere

Looking up the Hokitika River from the mouth up towards Lake Kaniere. Hokitika River bridge in the background with the Westland Dairy Factory on the left which the trail passes.

Lunch sheltered from the wind.

Lunch sheltered from the wind.

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.

Forest section towards Lake Kaniere

Forest section towards Lake Kaniere

Forest section towards Lake Kaniere

Forest section towards Lake Kaniere

The final water race section to Lake Kaniere

The final water race section to Lake Kaniere. I’d forgotten to change my tyres so rode the whole day on my thin road tyres. The trail was so good it didn’t matter.

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

(Hover mouse over photo to see Title. Click on photo to see full size and then you can scroll through all of them.)

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4 Responses to Into The Wilderness – West Coast Bike Trail

  1. Shona Bilsborough says:

    Well done guys. Sounds like you’re loving it but I bet the muscles are a bit sore 🙂 Shona B.

  2. gay dornbusch says:

    What a great trip you are doing and such gorgeous scenery. I have a painting my aunt did of lake Kaniere so it was lovely seeing pics of the real thing

    • Ross says:

      Yes, it’s a lovely part of the country, and dramatic. I hope the images lived up to the painting. The West Coast seems to have an abundance of forest-fringed glacier-carved lakes. This one is maybe the most mountainous.

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