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Short Walks

West coast wilderness trail top sights

  • 3 minutes

@hokitikacycles

Places to go and things to do

West Coast Wilderness Trail is a leisurely exploration of 19th century gold prospector’s mining trails. The wide well maintained trail passed water races, logging bushtram tracks and relics of a bygone era wrapped around glorious scenery.

Road to Jackson Bay, West Coast, New Zealand @Marc Ankenbauer
Road to Jackson Bay @Marc Ankenbauer

Embrace everything the West Coast has to offer:

  • Lush original rainforest only accessible to participants on the Coast Wilderness Trail
  • Enjoy scenery from bubbling creeks and and mountain rivers
  • Wetlands with birdlife, open to sweeping views of mountain ranges
  • Heritage corners where 19th century mining relics quietly rust
  • Heritage listed bridges repurposed as trail crossings, Totara Bridge (built in 1908)
  • Towns and villages with accommodation ranging from historic pubs to comfortable camping grounds

WEST COAST WILDERNESS TRAIL – KEY FACTS

  • Cycle trail is 120 km in length, start/finish Greymouth to historic gold mining town of Ross (further expansions are in the pipeline)
  • Multiple days 3 – 4 to complete the entire trail
  • Grade 2, easy to intermediate, mostly off-road on dedicated cycling trails
  • Steep section Kumara to Milltown
Ross visitor centre wall mural complete with bike racks for West Coast Wilderness Trail participants, New Zealand
Ross visitor centre wall mural complete with bike racks for West Coast Wilderness Trail participants
Truman Track waterfall, West Coast, New Zealand
Truman Track waterfall

BEST TIME TO GO?

mid-November to mid-March

The West Coast is one of the wettest parts of New Zealand yet it has a mild climate with plenty of sunshine between the showers. There is low humidity creating ideal biking weather. While it undoubtedly rains in winter. The ride in winter sunshine is beautiful with the snow dusting the Southern Alps. Always check the daily weather forecasts and ask about washouts as they do occur. Any alerts are notified on the homepage of the trail website.

The peak season (December to March). The downside of winter is the possibility of rain events with pouring rain for several days in a row.

TRANSPORT ON THE WEST COAST WILDERNESS TRAIL

Tour operators operate south to north (Ross to Hokitika) or north to south (Greymouth to Hokitika). The best direction on a hard-tail mountain bike (your own pedal power) is south to north with the prevailing wind behind you and gradient. Most cyclists are now opting for E-bikes.  Bike hire, shuttle services, and bag transfers are available on the trail. Three reputable companies Cycle Journeys, Wilderness Trail Shuttle and Trail Transport offer similar services and prices.

NOTE

The official West Coast Wilderness Trail website describes the trail with the official starting point in Greymouth.

Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track, West Coast, New Zealand @Jason Blair
Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track @Jason Blair

WEST COAST WILDERNESS TRAIL FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Can you walk the trail?

Yes, however you will be pushing / wheeling your bicycle

Can you do only one section?

Definitely

Grey River in Greymouth, West Coast, New Zealand @Wikimedia Commons
Grey River in Greymouth @Wikimedia Commons

How many sections and how long is each section?

The West Coast Wilderness Trail has four sections at present (plans to expand).

Greymouth—Kumara

31 km, Grade 2/easy, 2–4 hours

Setting off from Greymouth’s picturesque Victorian railway station, the trail starts with a flourish  along the Grey River floodwall where a photo-stop is part of the fun at the floodwall official start/finish gate.

Kumara—Milltown

36km, Grade 2/easy to Grade 3/intermediate (on-road sections are Grade 3/intermediate). 3–6 hours

Kumara is a charming historic gold mining stop with the award winning Theatre Royal Hotel, galleries and quirky caravan / shops. There is an interesting cemetery to visit, the Londonderry Rock…

Kumara iconic Theatre Royal now a hotel, West Coast, New Zealand
Kumara iconic Theatre Royal now a hotel
Hokitika Gorge, West Coast, New Zealand. Beautiful nature with blueturquoise color water and wooden swing bridge.
Hokitika Gorge

Milltown—Hokitika

36km, Grade 2/easy to Grade 3/intermediate (on-road sections are Grade 3/intermediate). 3–5 hours

Milltown provides an opportunity to visit Shantytown, a fun way to absorb the atmosphere of a 19th century gold mining town with its replica main street, tents, whares and stagecoach.

Hokitika the cool little town showcases all the West Coast has to offer visitors. Scenic highlights include Hokitika Gorge glacial blue waters, suspension bridge, Lake Kaniere … and shopping in Hokitika for souvenirs of the ride, pounamu and local artwork are great finds in Hokitika.

ARE THERE ANY DAY RIDES?

Yes, every section has the option of exploring the area further. In fact some of the trip highlights are found in the day rides, for instance in Hokitika, the West Coast Scenic Waterways runs boat cruises and kayak trips on Lake Mahinapua as part of the day trip. Visitors enjoy the wetlands meandering channels, prolific bird life and stunning coastal scenery. Then the day finishes on a high note with a stop at West Coast treetops canopy walk.

ARE DOGS AND HORSES ALLOWED ON THE TRAIL?

No, as the trail passes through Department of Conservation areas or reserves

ARE THERE TOILETS ALONG THE TRAIL?

Yes, these have been constructed as well; the trail passes through small settlements with public facilities.

Wooden jetty bridge at Lake Mahinapua, a shallow lake on the West Coast of The South Island, New Zealand. It is roughly 10km south of Hokitika and near the small town of Ruatapu.
Wooden jetty bridge at Lake Mahinapua

WHAT TO DO AND SEE WHILE ON THE TRAIL?

Check out West Coast guide, things to do sections for kiwi towns as well as guide to Greymouth and Hokitika for holiday inspiration.

WHAT IS THE BEST DIRECTION TO START?

As Hokitika Cycles & Sportsworld locals who know their district commented, you ride South to North (Ross to Greymouth.) Less time is spent riding uphill. Although with an E-bike pedal power is not much of an issue.

HOW TO FIND OUT THE LATEST INFORMATION ABOUT THE TRAIL?

For up to date information about trail conditions, check West Coast Wilderness Trail.

For more information about walking tracks check out West Coast walks and hikes, places to go and lace up the hiking boots.

 

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