Summer on the West Coast Wilderness Trail

Department of Conservation —  17/03/2016

By Chrissy Wickes, Biodiversity Ranger

Over the summer my family and I enjoyed a fantastic trip completing sections of the West Coast Wilderness Trail.

The red rail bridge near Greymouth.

The red rail bridge near Greymouth

For our first day on the trail we parked our car along the road just short of the great red rail bridge south of Greymouth and started the trip of a lifetime through virgin forest, past streams inhabited by fresh water crayfish, and with kererū loudly swooping through the canopy above.

Biking a forested section of the West Coast Wilderness Trail.

Avenue of trees approaching Kumara

There were plenty of tales from the past to discover at various historical sites along the way and a range of possible accommodation options.

Our favourite place to stay was at Cowboy Paradise, a crazy place in the middle of the bush where an enthusiastic local has created a ‘Wild West’ like atmosphere complete with cowboy hats. The experience was made all the more authentic by the local bandits—weka wandering into our cabin to steal our bread.

Another great section of the trail was from Lake Kaniere to where the road meets the track. It’s a neat section following a water race from an old power station in the area.

We biked 17 kilometres each day over 3 days choosing sections that were not on the road. My partner and I would then take turns biking back at the end of a delightful day to retrieve the car and bring it around.

The old mining remains on the Styx river.

Old mining remains on the Styx river

It was a neat trip and taught me something valuable. To do those 17 kilometres with our child took all day but we saw so much. When we biked back at the end of the day it often took less than 2 hours and you hardly saw more than your front wheel on the purpose built bike track in front you… it’s good to slow down!


The West Coast Wilderness Trail provides a unique immersion into the landscape of the West Coast, find out more over on the New Zealand Cycle Trail website.

2 responses to Summer on the West Coast Wilderness Trail

  1. 

    The old mining remains are the Kawhaka Intake on the Kawhaka Creek built 1878-79. It held enough water to supply 40 heads of water via the Waimea Race to Goldsborough in a summer dry spell.

  2. 

    It is a great asset to the West Coast