Adventures, adventures, adventures – what would life be without adventures……
Bikes are loaded, the dogs are ready to go so we’re off on another West Coast mountain biking adventure and heading for Waiuta. Waiuta is a historic gold mining ghost town, high up on the Southern Alps between Greymouth and Reefton. The drive from the main SH7 up to Waiuta is stunning in itself, meandering up through beautiful beach forest before coming out on top of the Southern Alps and history unfolding in front of you.
We’ve come here many times – exploring usually on foot the remnants of the township from the early to mid 1900s. It is just a ghost town now but there are a sprinkling of old buildings left and lots of trails and information boards with photos to remind you of yesteryear. Today though, we’re not here to explore the old township – we’re off to mountain bike an old trail linking two historic gold mining areas – Waiuta to Big River.
This has predominately been a tramping track but Doc have been working to make it a bit more mountain bike friendly – or so we thought! You have always been allowed to mountain bike it but it is not for the faint hearted with narrow sections and steep drop offs. The first section has been worked a bit by DOC but it is only a short section and we are soon back to nature in her true form.
There are many tree roots on the track, loose rocks, small creeks to negotiate and it is a test for your mountain bike skills and techniques. Not a time to be the hero but to know your limits and respect your surroundings – you want to enjoy the ride, especially coming back out so no mistakes or injuries please.
The bush here is stunning – moss growing on the trees, ferns of all shapes and sizes – great examples of native NZ flora and fauna The birds are singing, we see the NZ wood-pigeon souring through the trees and the odd fantail flutters in front of us like it is showing us the way. There are huge ravines littered with fallen trees and rocks – it is a long way down so stay on your bike Jan!
The track seems to continually meander up, up and up unrelentingly. We know it has to go down at some stage to meet up with Big River. Thankfully, we did start to make our way down through the bush line with some nice steep fun switchbacks and flowing trail.
The last section of down meets with the creek bed cut out by the early gold miners. The creek bed becomes part of the trail and the water is refreshing after all the climbing and it is a fun little technical section before turning back to hard packed trail littered with leaves, roots and twigs again. Time to turn around and head back to the car so we’re not late for our guest arrivals.
The climb back up from the creek bed is a fun challenge. Sometimes short steep terrain is easier than constant meandering up hill. Before long, we’re back at the top and ready for the ride back to the car.
The trip down is great fun – not particularly fast like a general downhill would be, but nice and flowing. The ground is reasonably soft and this means a bit of peddling is still required.
Of course it was definitely quicker coming out than the slog in but we still had to take care as it was the same track after all, with the same drop offs, slippery tree roots, loose rocks and deep ravines as when we came in. As pretty as those ravines look, we don’t want to end at the bottom of one!
Eventually the trail widens to where the Department of Conservation have been working to and we join the 4WD road back to the car. There is a small creek at the car park and the boys are in there for a well deserved drink of water.
Loaded up, time to head home. Yet another great adventure completed on the wonderful West Coast – adventures, adventures, adventures, where would we be without adventures – Waiuta to Big River.
Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Punakaiki coastline north of Greymouth on the West Coast of NZ. They enjoy the outdoors and getting out and exploring with their two dogs Nico and Ziggy and love to share their experiences with their guests. For other adventures check out their activities page from their website www.breakers.co.nz – rated #1 on Tripadvisor.