Off-road adventure: Kumara to Treetops on West Coast Wilderness Trail - Tackling the West Coast of Te Waipounamu - CycleBlaze

March 19, 2022

Off-road adventure: Kumara to Treetops on West Coast Wilderness Trail

Our shiny,  highly strung road bikes stay in storage today and a posse of hired grunty trail bikes rolls into town. Mine is a Giant ebike, which I'm very excited about. Today's trail will prove to have over 700 metres of elevation and my legs have asked for a rest.

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The West Coast Wilderness Trail extends from Greymouth in the north down to Ross. It's built on a series of goldminers' trails, water races, logging tramways and railway lines and, all up, covers over 120km - mostly through stunning native bush.

From Kumara, the trail rises up to two reservoirs, then climbs further into the bush slopes of the Kawhaka Pass, reaching its highest point of around 320 metres before dropping down to Cowboy Paradise. We ride straight down the main street of this deserted replica wild west town, and enjoy the flowy downhill towards the Arahura River and Milltown. 

One more hill lies between us and lunch and it's a steep one, though with a nice downhill to finish the morning's ride.

Lunch at Sunshine Bight on Lake Kaniere is a colourful affair. The food truck began life as a working lifeboat but is now a quirky purveyor of organic Dutch food and excellent drip filter coffee. 

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But the trail is waiting for us. We follow the Kaniere water race, a historic structure, through another section of bush, then through the Kaniere township to the big smoke of Hokitika. There's not much happening today so we turn our backs on the town, crossing the river and heading for our destination on a mix of gravel roads and new track.

It's a long bridge needed to span the Hokitika river as it approaches the Tasman Sea.
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This last section of trail is new to us, having been opened long after we roda the original trail. As with the rest of the trail, the roadside sections are just that - a ride beside the road. But when it turns inland and heads into the bush, the riding is sublime.

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Treetops is our destination, a few kilometres from trail-end at Ross. As it suggests, this is a treetop-high walkway, in pre-Covid times a popular visitor experience. But as with the rest of our tourism industry, it has been hit hard by the lack of overseas visitors in the past two years.

We cyclists hardly help. Once off the bikes, we manage to walk only as far as the cafe, ready for the day's debrief. And coffees and beers. Cheers.

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Dennis LangleyHi Robin I’m currently doing a bike tour in Tasmania and also blogging on Cycleblaze. Strangely you have the identical photo on your title page to mine. How did that weird coincidence happen? Enjoy your ride and have fun! Dennis
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8 months ago
Robyn RichardsHi Dennis
Yes, I've been following your journal with interest. Sounds like a hard ride! We would love to go to Tassie to ride Darby...one day!Enjoy yours too.
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8 months ago

Today's ride: 86 km (53 miles)
Total: 395 km (245 miles)

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