Blacks Point to Waitahu Loop – Mountain Biking Magic

Wow what a magic day out on the bike in Reefton biking the Blacks Point to Waitahu loop.

waitahu valley reefton

We had been wanting to do this track for sometime but with so many options when it comes to hiking and biking we never seemed to quite make it.  Got close back in February but while we had our bikes we managed to somehow leave the rest of our riding gear at home – I know, don’t ask!

Anyway today was our day.  Reefton is about an hour’s drive inland from Greymouth, a nice drive up through the valley through some lovely farmland.  It was an overcast morning but not cold and not a breath of wind – near perfect riding conditions.

murrays creek track blacks point reefton

The trail starts just outside of Reefton at Blacks Point so we parked in Reefton and biked the short road section – about 3kms to the trail head.  Good to start in Reefton as the road section was a nice little warm up for our legs given what was about to come…….

coming down waitahu valley track reeftonI made that sound ominous didn’t I!  Actually it isn’t that bad.  We’re starting out with the Murray’s Creek track – an old historic road that climbs up to the Waitahu Saddle, following the creek and leading us past old coal mines to the Waitahu Junction.  It is a pretty gentle climb for around 4kms with a couple of nasty sharp pinches but overall quite manageable.  Enough to get the heart rate pumping but gentle enough to enjoy the beautiful bush clad scenery as we climb.

rest break waitahu junction reefton mtbing

Reaching the saddle it is time to catch our breath and have a bite to eat before we tackle the more advanced benched single track down the other side into the Waitahu Valley.

steep trail blacks point to waitahu reefton

mtb waitahu loop track reefton

This section is pure magic.  There are some rather steep sections that as much as we’d like to try to tackle, there are no heroes amongst us as we don’t fancy a trip over the handle bars so staying within the boundaries of our abilities and wanting to make it safely to the end,  we proceed with caution.  In saying that Stephen nails it – he was on fire for this ride.

Ross on waitahu loop mtb track reefton

ferns in the forest blacks point to waitahu loop track

mountain biking blacks point to waitahu reefton

The track sidled down and around almost a ridgeline with some rather big drop-offs to the side.  It is quite narrow in places and steep in others – aptly named “Devils Tail” as it swings around and down towards the forest floor.

forest of green blacks point to waitahu loop mtb track

It is super impressive in the bush though – gorgeous big Rimu and Matai trees looming up from the forest floor, mosses hanging off some of the trees and of course plenty of beautiful big ferns and green as green grasses.

crossing the swingbridge waitahu loop mtb track

jan crossing swingbridge waitahu valley

At the base of single track we reach the impressive Clematis swing-bridge the crosses the Waitahu River.  A relatively new addition to the trail to give safe access across the river.  She is an impressive structure and we gingerly cross one by one to the other side.

mountain biking along side river waitahu valley reefton

mountain biking waitahu valley reefton

With the bridge safely negotiated we have around a 7km ride along-side the banks of the river to reach the Gannons Road end.  It is beautiful through here – an undulating 4WD track that is easy-going in places and a bit rougher in others.

enjoying the river views waitahu valley mountain bike ride reefton

Once at Gannons Road we “pose” for one last photo before the completion of the final leg of our ride – a nice gentle road section back into Reefton.  It is a nice way to end the ride, reminiscing at the adventure and the beauty.

horses through the streets of Reefton

Back in Reefton we captured these beauties as we were heading out of town – not something you see every day but nice to see others making the most of their weekend.

For us our ride wouldn’t be complete without a stop at the Broadway Tearooms and Bakery for some coffee and cake – now that’s what I call a good day out in the saddle. Absolutely gorgeous scenery, great company and seriously good fun.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about and exploring the many things there are to see and do on the West Coast.

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Tunnel Terrace Walk, Goldsborough – Following in the Footsteps of the Gold Miners

walking through the bush terrace tunnel walk

Tunnel Terrace walk is a very short little walk in between Hokitika and Greymouth in an area known as Goldsborough.  Goldsborough was a gold mining area back in the days of the gold rush of the 1850s so there are lots of trails around the region filled with mining history – the miners diggings, tunnels and tail races.

forest of green terrace tunnel walk

This is a great little find – an easy 20 minute loop track buried in the bush.

beautiful native bush on terrace tunnel walk

You wouldn’t really know the track was here actually – easy to by-pass as it starts and finishes with a walk through a tunnel (sorry no photos as too dark), part of the miners old tail race.  You pop out of the tunnel and straight into dense regenerating native forest.

moss covered tree trunks terrace tunnel walk

It is so beautiful in here.  Many of the tree trunks are covered in moss and ferns.  I’m sure they could tell quite the story of days gone by.

Nico on Terrace Tunnel walk

The trail follows an old tail race hand dug by the gold miners and there are a couple of times it disappears into the rock beneath us.  Love this photo as it looks like Nico is thinking – aaahhh ghosts, I’m out of here!

across boardboard with diggings to the side

walking in terrace tunnel track

Many of the tailings are left on the side of the track, painstakingly hand-stacked and to help preserve them and some of our more delicate plants there are now board-walks in places along the trail.

moss covered rocks on terrace tunnel walk

Other hand-staked tailings actually form part of the track and are covered in brilliant green mosses and lichen.  Something I love about our native bush, no matter what we throw at her she soon reclaims her home.  Don’t know about you but I think if you wanted to live in an enchanted forest this would be a good place to lay down some roots……..

Tunnel terrace walk goldsborough

If you’re looking for a nice short walk – with lots of history and plenty of green then add Tunnel Terrace walk to you list – you won’t be disappointed.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  Together with their two dogs Nico and Ziggy they enjoy getting out and about and exploring the many wonders that help make up the West Coast of the Southern Alps.




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Spring Beach Walk – Great Coast Road, West Coast

great coast road and tasman sea

Nothing like a walk on the beach to blow out the cobwebs.  The thing that I love about the beaches on the West Coast – each one is so different and our latest walk was no exception.

incoming tide great coast road beach walk

Heading slightly north from home to park up at the “17 mile” on the Great Coast Road.

sandy beach great coast road and tasman sea

eroding shoreline Great Coast Road West Coast

Beautiful day with clearings skies but with some sea mist to the south adding to the atmosphere.

dogs enjoying beach walk great coast road

The boys are happy – this is a gorgeous sandy beach, in fact Stephen and I say to each other “where have all the pebbles gone!” – oh I know, they’re on our beach lol

boulders to bank great coast road beach walk

It is still quite bouldery (is that a word? – is now) on the shoreline and pockets of washed up driftwood but the beach itself is sand, sand, sand.

walk along sandy beach great coast road

We’re just walking – as far as we can before we decide to turn around again.  Such a gorgeous afternoon why not eh!

views great coast road and tasman sea

Ziggy in the creek great coast road beach walk

There is the occasional little creek crossing to negotiate but Ziggy is more interested in doing a spot of fishing when he can – one day, just maybe one day, he’ll bring us home our dinner…….

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  Together with their faithful friends Nico and Ziggy, their two dogs, they enjoy getting out and about and exploring the West Coast.

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West Coast Wilderness Trail – Hokitika to Lake Kaniere, a Ride of Two Halves

Back on our bikes again and it is good to give the legs a stretch after our mission ride from our Heaphy weekend.

This time we’re taking it a bit more easy and just making the most of the nice day.

Hokitika clock tower

We’ve driven down to Hokitika as I’m keen to check out the Hokitika to Lake Kaniere section of the West Coast Wilderness Trail.

west coast wilderness trail at hokitika

Now we love the West Coast Wilderness Trail and we generally don’t like to bag something  – we like to try and see the positive in most things but today our ride can only be described as a ride of two halves or even perhaps the good, the bad and the ugly – well not quite but definitely the good and the bad.

country roads west coast wilderness trail

The bad would be the amount of road riding.  Don’t get us wrong, it does pass through some lovely farm land following the Hokitika River up the valley but given it is a country road that is slightly windy we think (and hope) some serious effort needs to be made to get more of this section off road.  In reality it may not be possible and we are possibly just spoilt with the rest of the trail – this is just our opinion as we like to do 1/2 day trips so each to their own.

forest section hurunui jacks west coast wilderness trail

west coast wilderness trail lake kaniere

That said, after around 12kms we leave the main road and head into the native bush via Hurunui Jacks.  Now we enter the good.

crossing the kaniere river on west coast wilderness trail

The trail meanders through the forest heading toward the Kaniere water race track.  It is very pretty here in the bush following the Hokitika water supply line that feeds the Kaniere River of which we see the occasional glimpse of.

water edge lake kaniere water race west coast wilderness trail

kaniere water race west coast wilderness trail

At Ward Road we meet the junction of the Kaniere Water Race track where we enter the Wilderness Trail side of the Race Track.  The water race itself was hand dug back in the mid 1800s – no excuse to huff and puff in here given the real work that has already been done many years before us  – that and the fact that it is very flat…….

bridge crossing over kaniere water race west coast wilderness trail

west coast wilderness trail kaniere water race track

The Kaniere river follows the track down on the forest floor while we are up on the water race.  On stopping for a photo we notice incredibly tall Rimu trees looming just off the side of the trail – pays to look but stop first as you don’t want to end up in the water race!

duck on lake kaniere

This section of the trail ends at the shores of Lake Kaniere and that is our destination – or turn around point for the day.  The lake is calm giving some great reflections and we meet a very friendly little duck having fun in the current from the intake to the water race.

boardwalk along side kaniere water race west coast wilderness trail

Time to get back on our bikes and do it all in reverse as we head back to Hoki.  If you’re doing the whole cycle trail this road section probably won’t bother you but as we do many little half day trips, this probably isn’t one we’d rush back to.

in the bush west coast wilderness trail

Nex time we’ll start at Hurunui Jacks to eliminate the main road and perhaps bike to Milltown carpark – watch this space, we might do that next time around…….

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy hiking and biking and getting out and exploring the many offerings of the West Coast of the Southern Alps.

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Mountain Biking Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

Thump, thump, thump – is that the sound of my heart beat……

views of karamea and surrounds

no that is the sound of the blades turning on our “bus” – a Bell Long Ranger helicopter as we’re being transported to the Collingwood end of the Heaphy Track thanks to Wayne and the team at Karamea Helicopter Charters.

Oh my gosh to say I’m excited would be an understatement, to say I’m nervous well there isn’t a word for that – my heart is racing, I can feel it pulsing at what seems like 100 beats per minute (I don’t know – is that a lot, you know what I’m trying to say though).  I’m excited, I’m anxious, I’m ready to go.  This is going to be such an adventure.

views to farewell spit from helicopter

The Heaphy Track is known as one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” and it has been opened for seasonal mountain biking.   With the season about to come to an end we were given an opportunity to bike from the Collingwood side in Golden Bay back across to the West Coast.  Now you may be thinking but you’re only biking one way – well yes, we’re getting a helicopter to the start at the Collingwood side – I know!  What a way to start a ride!

mtbs loaded ready for helicopter flight heaphy track

Our morning start is picture perfect – hardly a cloud in sight.  Making our way to the helicopter hanger we drop off all our biking gear ready for loading into the helicopter.  Wayne from Karamea Helicopter Charters has a purpose-built rack for the bikes.  Locked and loaded we’re ready for take-off……..

views over karamea farmland from helicopter

views to heaphy river mouth heaphy track

heaphy track from helicopter

Any nerves about the flight soon abate as the wonder at the incredible views take over.  Flying up over the Karamea farmland with views to the Tasman Sea we basically do the Heaphy Track by flight so we know what we’re in for – or do we?

views from helicopter to farewell spit

Seeing this countryside from the helicopter is breath-taking and we can’t believe how fortunate we are for this experience.  Just this flight alone is worth it to experience such magnificent scenery.  Nearing our destination our friend Richard points out Farewell Spit off in the distance – the northern most point of the South Island.  Just magic.

ready to ride browns hut end heaphy track

Time to land and some of my nerves are coming back – this time in anticipation of the ride ahead.  I’ve been laid down with the flu for the good part of the last three weeks so there hasn’t been any riding time of late.  I was determined not to let that stop me though when this opportunity came about.  I’ll just go at my pace and we’ll see what happens.

riders on heaphy track

phil enjoying heaphy track

After a very short ride along the access road our first stop is Browns Hut – this is basically the true start of the track.  We meet some people who have finished their ride – thankfully they don’t tell me what is still to come……

richard and phil enjoy rest break heaphy track

Our destination before the end of the day (hopefully!) is the James Mackay hut – some 41kms away and starting with a 17.5km climb.  Yes folks, you read that right – 17.5kms.  What was I thinking!

climb up to perry saddle heaphy track

lunch break heaphy track

This is a gorgeous ride of incredibly diverse scenery.  The first 7kms are a nice gradual incline up through the bush – quite manageable even by my standards.  Have to say I did struggle on the next 3kms and was very pleased to reach the Aorere Shelter.  Time for a short rest and fuel stop, compare riding notes – mmmm you went fast, I went slow…… and to take in the gorgeous views.

tussock land heaphy track

Then back in the saddle and onwards and upwards to Perry Saddle and hut located at 880 metres above sea level – yep, told you we were climbing.

enjoying views from perry saddle hut

chatting with riders heaphy track

What a location for a hut – views in all directions and apparently on a super clear day you can even see Mt Taranaki on the North Island.  We met some hardy souls who were on their way out – depressing thing is they were riding the entire trail in one day with just the downhill left to do.  To make it even more depressing they had ridden across two days earlier – in one day!  Oh to be young and fit (they were at least 15 years older than us I have to add……something to aspire to perhaps).

open grassy section between huts heaphy track

crossing cove brook heaphy track

Onwards again – we have a long day ahead of us, passing through patches of beech trees and clearings of tussock.  There were fast and flowy sections and short sections of just pedaling it out before we crossed the little Cave Brook and passed the Gouland Downs Hut – 7kms down another 5.4kms to go to get to Saxon, our next refuel stop.

enchanted forest heaphy track

This section is mostly through tussock land and creek beds but there is one short section through what is known as the “enchanted forest” – moss-covered beech forest amongst a limestone outcrop.  It is incredible in here and so weird to be in what seems like the middle of nowhere after being out in the tussock.

biking through the tussock land heaphy track

mountain biking across tussock fields heaphy track

All too soon we’re back into the open again surrounded by the tussock land.  The clouds were starting to roll in over the mountains so it made it all the more mystical and I could imagine it could be quite oppressive through here on a misty day.  No mist for us though and we finally reach Saxon Hut.

saxton hut heapy track

It was nice to take a little break from the bike if only for a few minutes.  We didn’t want to dilly dally for too long – still another 13kms to go.  Oh my!

boardwalk heaphy track

richard and cordelia bum rock heaphy track

This last section to our “home” for the night descended slightly, down through grassy flats that run along side the Saxon River before our last little climb for the day – I know…… to a ridgeline where the Gouland Downs meet the Mackay Downs.  There is a gorgeous piece of boardwalk along here and some crazy rocks coming up out of the landscape.  One rock is aptly shaped to the part of our anatomy – quite fitting by this stage of the ride as we’re really feeling it!.  I’ll let you guess which rock but the clue is the shape is sideways (look closely and you’ll see  it….)

through the beech scrub heaphy track

dinner at mackay hut heaphy track

The trail enters back into scrub like bush and pockets of beech trees and eventually our home to the night comes into view – James Mackay hut. Phil has kindly gone on ahead and whipped us up a storm in the kitchen and after a quick cleanup we sit down to enjoy this fine feast in the middle of the wilderness – now this is what I call back country living!

double rainbow in the morning heaphy track

sunrise over mackay hut heaphy track

After some overnight rain, the new dawn greets us with some morning mist and a double rainbow before the sun filters through the clouds.  It is a magical place to wake up to and sets us up for a continuation of our awesome day before.  Can it really get any better….

descent heaphy track

avenue of rimu heaphy track

Turns out it can.  I mentioned earlier the diversification in the scenery on day one well day two is almost unbelievable.  Completely different again from yesterday.  We leave Mackay Hut for a 13km downhill – I know, so exciting!  Actually although was downhill, which we aren’t complaining about, there was still quite a bit of pedaling and line picking for mud holes etc but overall what an awesome trail.  Down through huge fern groves and avenues of Rimu trees and across little creeks.

bush robin heaphy track

chatting with bush robin heaphy track

At one stage we had a visitor that we just had to stop for.  A little bush robin – incredibly inquisitive and oh so cute.

forest of green heaphy track

nikau grove heaphy track

Eventually we make it down to Lewis Hut at the base of the hill and we then have a lovely 8km ride that winds it way through Nikau Palms and Rata Trees running along side the Heaphy River.

meeting pete and white bait heaphy track

Now this is where this little outing gets slightly surreal.  We have an 11am appointment with a most lovely man called “Big Pete”, a good friend of Richard and Phil who has kindly offered to cook us up a fresh feed of whitebait.  It is whitebait season here on the West Coast and this is Big Pete’s home for the next couple of months.  What a lovely character – could have sat here all day listening to his awesome stories but we still have more riding ahead of us yet.

rossiter brothers at heaphy river mouth

With tummies full of fresh white bait we’re off again first stopping at the Heaphy Hut.  Phil has to leave us now as our pace is just a little slow and he has an appointment back in Westport.

richard and jan along beach track of heaphy track

Well we’re getting close now – onto the final 16kms to the end of the trail.  The trail now mostly follows the coastline so the views are outstanding.

through the rocks heaphy track

coastal views on heaphy track

There are rocky shores and sandy shores as we pass through little bays.  The track meanders in and out of sub tropical rain forest and coastal grasses with short little pinches to climb and fun little rock sections to negotiate.

crossing swingbridge heaphy track

enjoying the views from swingbridge heaphy track

We cross quite a few wooden bridges and beautiful big swing bridges.  Department of Conservation and their hard-working team have done an awesome job with this trail.

rocky downhill along beachfront heaphy track

heaphy track meandering along beach front

More coastal sections and we can see the final ridge that will lead us into the Kohaihai Valley and the end of trail.  Being a ridge it does mean a climb – just a little tester to finish the ride with.  Can’t make it too easy!

final bridge at kohaihai heaphy track

and then after a short fun downhill we round the corner and can’t help but break into a smile as we see the final bridge crossing the Kohaihai river – we’ve made it!  What a weekend, what an adventure.  Big thanks to Richard and Phil, Big Pete and Wayne from Karamea Helicopter Charters for making this one of the most memorable adventures yet and mostly to my hubby Stephen for giving me the moral support to get to the end.

Say yes to adventure – but look around you, that adventure may just be in your own backyard.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  The West Coast was named one of the top 10 regions to visit in the world in 2014 by Lonely Planet – Heaphy Track is just one of the many reasons why.

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Sunsets and Night Sky – a Night out at Kapitea Reservoir

mountain reflections kapitea reservoir

My husband sure knows how to show a girl a good time!  Seriously it was an awesome night out.

sunset at kapitea reservoir

colours of the sunset on the mountains and lake kapitea reservoir

We headed out to Kapitea Reservoir in behind the little village of Kumara to catch the last of the sunset as the colours hit the snow-capped mountains and reflected into the lake.

kumara night sky

Then off to Kumara to the Theatre Royal Hotel for a lovely relaxing dinner.  Great service and simple but very tasty food.

night sky on west coast wilderness trail

star lit skies above west coast wilderness trail kapitea reservoir

Once we were sure the skies would be dark enough we drove back to the Kapitea Reservoir to check out the star lit skies.  We headed to the back lake first this time and walked part of the West Coast Wilderness Trail.

nightsky and milkyway above Kapitea Reservoir

On the banks of the lake surrounded by the mountains and the star lit sky – it was a magical spectacle.  There were ducks quaking, Morepork hooting and frogs were croaking.

watching the star lit night sky kapitea reservoir

It was a magic way to spend a few quality hours with my husband – one would almost say romantic…… leaving we had to drive past the front reservoir lake so decided to stop there also.  Found this man lurking by the lake shore……. weirdo tee hee…..

nightsky near Kumara

One final stop at the outlet before it was time to head for home.  Hard to beat an evening out star-gazing – thanks for a great night Love.

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about and exploring the many wonders that make this region of New Zealand so special.

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The Great Coast Road – a Beach Walk

views to southern alps great coast road

Summer time and the living is easy…… nope too early but wow it sure feels like summer today.

Clear blue skies, sun is shining and it is warm.  There is still a cool breeze but when you’re in the shelter from the wind the temperatures are very tropical – relatively speaking of course.

beaches along Great Coast Road

We’re off for a beach walk.  Again I hear you say.  When you live on the Great Coast Road you are spoiled for choice with beaches so stands to reason that’s what we’re up to today.

After a short drive to the north of home we park up along the roadside at about the 15 mile.  It really is around 15 miles from Greymouth so we keep things really simple when naming places.  Actually I read the other day it stems from the gold mining rush of the 1800s when describing where gold claims were – this one was, well yep, 15 miles from Greymouth :-)

breaking surf great coast road with mountain views

No gold here today – well there will be but that isn’t what we’re here for.  We’re just here to walk and enjoy the views.  Yes the views – views to die for!

That’s the Southern Alps you can see with Mt Cook and Mt Tasman looming also.  Fab eh!

great coast road west coast nz

The Great Coast Road has been named one of the top ten coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet.  We’d like to say we know why – we live here, we’re not bias.  But seriously it really is beautiful and some would say has to be seen to be believed.

There are numerous opportunities to access the various beaches are they are all quite different – some stoney, some sandy, some with huge rocky outcrops, other with sheer cliff-faces.

Ok, so that’s the marketing spiel done back to our walk…….

great coast road views along beach

surging waves great coast road

We walk to the north initially – pretty much to the 17 mile where there is a huge sheer cliff-face that the road winds its way up around.

17 mile beach great coast road

There are some craggy rocks looming out of the sea and on the edge of the beach and with the incoming tide the surf is pounding around the rocks so we need to be mindful of our way so we don’t get stranded.

seal relaxing great coast road

There are seals lazing in the sunshine – and why not on this gorgeous Spring day.

mountain views great coast road

mt cook and mt tasman views great coast road

Time to head back and this is really when the views open up – all the way south with the snow capped mountains in the back ground – wow!

It’s a tough life but someone has to do it…….

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  The Great Coast Road was named one of the top ten coastal drives in the world by Lonely Planet and the West Coast one of the top 10 regions to visit in the world – and it is right on their doorstep.



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