Rich in mining history, the West Coast offers a great range of riding across the region from the shorter rides around Hokitika to the much longer tracks which form part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail. The areas remoteness and ruggedness makes it a wild and dramatic landscape, a perfect location for mountain biking.
The Coast’s historic MTB tracks and multi-day rides include the Old Ghost Road and Heaphy Track. Head down the Great Coast Road to Westport, near the Denniston Plateau tracks… Greymouth, where the West Coast Wilderness Trail begins… And Hokitika (home of the Wild Foods Festival) – check out the Blue Spur MTB Park and Nationals track.
Old Ghost Road - Day One
Lyell to Specimen Creek Hut: 7 hours, 65km, Grade 3&4, 100% single track
In 1862, a party of Maori prospectors discovered the first gold in Lyell Creek, and the rush was on. At its peak, the town of Lyell boasted seven stores, five hotels, two churches, a school, bank, post office, police station, mining office and of course a brewery. None remain.
Kirwans Hill is situated around 12km north of Reefton. This stunning ride is a must do, and on your list of trails to ride sometime during your life as a cyclist. It is a multi use track and is very popular with trampers so be courteous towards them and ride within your ability. It is a big day, taking somewhere in the region of 6-10hrs to complete. It can also be ridden via a helicopter drop to the hut with a possible stay overnight and great ride back out to the car.
Desperately in need of a mental health day, I had made up my mind that I was riding the Croesus Track. Unable to find a crew amongst the usual suspects I received a well-timed email from friends that were keen to ride Craigieburn, well why not? It was on the way from Christchurch and a good way to warm up. After a fantastic day of fast rooty single track we parted ways and I set off on four wheels coast bound.
Over a welcome cold beer at our Cowboy Paradise overnight stop, our companions enthuse about seeing trout swimming in a clear stream, a throaty tui chirping nearby, a kereru gliding overhead and a curious weka inspecting our bicycles.
The Old Ghost Road is a great all weather ride. It’s also a trail that will soon be found on the bucket list of mountain bikers the world over. I recently spent a very soggy few days there, and came away planning for return visits.
Reefton has been on our radar for some time, with a Kirwans Reward loop, via the main Blacks Point track. This was on the top of Cherie Rusbatch’s (Ground Effect) bucket list. It started out innocently enough with a good time had by all as we headed down to the Waitaha River. After the swing bridge we cruised up the river’s true right bank towards the Montgomerie Hut, and that’s when the fun started.