Phew – it’s been incredibly busy at Breakers this season – running on over 90% occupancy for February. Thankfully we’ve had some wonderful guests and made some lovely new friends. For many it is their first visit to Breakers, a good portion have said they’ll be back and for others it was their second or third visit – not bad considering 99% of our guests are international visitors!
Have to admit though I am a wee tad tired – it’s been quite a long time since I had a day off – December 26th to be exact…….. It hasn’t been too bad, that is up until February. Before then we seemed to be managing our time quite well with the help of our wonderful neighbour up the road helping out with cleaning and occasional checkins so we can get some time out exploring – by foot or by bike. February hasn’t quite worked as well though – it really has just been too busy.
Today though, with a bike event pending I really needed to get some time on my bike. Amelia – my sanity in human form, came and helped with the cleaning and between the three of us we had all the rooms cleaned and ready for the next checkins by just after 11.30am. Certainly helped that most of our guests headed off on their next adventure early this morning so we could get stuck in.
So after a quick bite to eat and an even quicker trip down to the beach to run the dogs, I was off. Today’s ride I ended up doing on my own – Stephen was still doing some last-minute adjustments to his bike and I really just wanted to get going, conscious of my limited timeframe. My ride today was starting from home – again, didn’t want to waste any precious time with driving somewhere first – could easily loose 1/2 an hour or more. I’m desperate here!
We’re lucky enough that there are three or four routes we can do straight from home – throw them all together and you’ve got quite the little adventure and a good workout.
First up I headed up the main road to the 8 mile valley (we’re at 9 mile so not far…..). The first section of the valley ride is a 4WD gravel road that the drillers for Solid Energy use to access the back country. Great for us as it is a well cleared road whereas when Stephen and I first moved here we used to come up with the slashers to help keep it open.
It is a bit of a grind, winding its way up the hill-side, past a rock quarry before meeting the start of the single track. The gravel road is exceptionally loose at the moment from the drillers driving up and down the road and the road being so dry so they churn it up. The single track makes up for the grind though…… It used to be part of the old rope road through the native forest from the St James mine back in the early 1900s. Some enthusiastic locals have spent quite some time (one Dad in particular actually!) working on the track, making it bike friendly with some nice swoopy bits, technical sections, little jumps and big jumps if you are that way inclined. Once on the single track it is predominately downhill all the way – great fun! As I was on my own I didn’t over extend myself too much – didn’t need any heroics here today or silly accidents more to the point. Some parts are quite steep with loose gravel, tree roots and little drop offs to negotiate. Very satisfying once through these sections that is for sure!
It is a lovely ride down through the native forest with many relics lying in the bush left from the mining days. The last section is the steepest part of the old rope road and some of the rope is still imbeded in the ground so you have to be careful as your wheel will slide on it and you’ll be on the ground in a flash. I don’t take any risks on this bit – know my limitations especially being in here by myself and not really knowing how far behind me Stephen might be with his ride. I could easily endo head first into a tree, bouncing off some steel relic and be waiting in a rather painful and awkward position for some time – so yep, I get off and walk the last section – trust me though, there aren’t many that can ride it, it is super steep, narrow and littered with rusting steel and wood. It is only a short section of about 100 metres and eventually you pop out of the bush beside the old load-out bay from Solid Energy and the Spring Creek mine. There is a track in the long grass winding its way along the edge of the fencing for the conveyor belt before putting you onto the old haul road and out into the little coastal hamlet of Rapahoe.
Have to say, just doing this ride alone is enough to release my stress relief pressure valve so that is goal number one ticked off. Second goal is to get some riding time into my legs and whilst the 8 mile is a great fun blast with a good steady hill climb – I’d be home just under an hour and that won’t help me for my riding event next weekend! So on I go and head to the Rewanui Incline.
Rewanui Incline is up the seven mile valley in the back of the village of Dunnolie. It is about 6kms along the state highway again heading towards Greymouth before you turn into the Dunnolie village and then follow the signs for the Spring Creek mine and Rewanui Incline/Walkway.
It starts at the gate for Spring Creek coal mine, a short section of single track following the haul road – put here to ensure the walkers and bikers are safe from the coal trucks and keep us all off the haul road. Eventually we meet back with the haul road but stay right to head up Mt Davy and the Rewanui Incline proper. The Incline is the old railway line from the Rewanui and Siberia coal mines – some of the earlier mines in the area – all disused now. There actually used to be villages up here supporting the coal mines – the Rewanui village and Siberia village further up in the mountain.
Today though, all that remains is the old line the train used to travel, now a gravel road and a gradual incline, through two tunnels before ending at a creek bed where the township once was. On the other side of the Seven Mile creek you can see some of the old buildings – the bathhouse, store shed and a mine entrance. They are slowly getting taken over by the bush and are now just a distant reminder of what once was.
The ride up is around 7kms so a good little workout with it being a gradual incline – just enough to know you are going uphill. It does of course mean you get to have a bit of a blast on the way back down. Mostly peddling but fast and flowy and fun!
Back onto the road to make my way home and I’m not feeling too bad. It is a glorious afternoon, hot and sunny. I’ve got almost an hour left before the 3.30pm checkin time so I decide to take one more run up the 8-mile to finish my ride off. I think this thought at the bottom of the hill climb up to the 8-mile turnoff – legs don’t feel too bad, come on girl, you can do this and it would be nice to finish on a high of some more fun single track.
I dart across the road to the gate entrance for the 8-mile – no going back now. Straight into the grind up the gravel road – I’d forgotten in this short time how loose and rutted out it was. Hard to find a clear line without bouncing your way up the road. Legs are definitely tired now but it has to be good for you right! It’s all ok I tell myself, just take it slow and steady, plenty of time to get to the top just keep on spinning. Its seems longer than I remember but in reality it doesn’t take long and before I know it I’m back in the forest, back into the single track, back into middle chain ring and blasting back down through the trees. This track is FUN. Again, no heroics on the technical sections, keep it safe and steady – wahoo – at the bottom before you know it……
Back onto the main road for the last little climb to home and surprisingly the legs don’t feel too bad. Perfect timing, first lot of guests arrive at the same time as me. Wonderful to be out in the fresh air on this gorgeous West Coast day, fabulous to let off some steam, great way to release the stress relief pressure valve. Job done!
Jan runs Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Punakaiki Coastline, West Coast, NZ with her husband Stephen. Together with their two dogs, Nico and Ziggy, they love to get out and explore the wonders of the West Coast. Check out their website and activities page for other things to see and do on the West Coast.