Had the good fortune to head off for a bike ride with my lovely husband and explore some new countryside – deep in the Northern West Coast – Buller region or Seddonville/Mokihinui to be more precise. This is north of Westport but staying on the West Coast.
The Old Ghost Road – a true NZ back country mountain bike experience. This has always been a tramping track for experienced hikers but thanks to a very dedicated and passionate group of people it has been opened up for advanced mountain bikers. It is still a work in progress but eventually it will be ridable all the way through to Lyell – inland from Westport heading towards Murchison.
The few who had the vision and those responsible for the re-build of this trail need to be congratulated big time. These photos pretty much sum up the beauty of the ride. It really is world-class for biking and tramping.
Given my lack of time on a bike lately we were just aiming to go as far as the legs would allow and turn around again – maybe a 2 hour bike ride….. secretly though I really wanted to make it to the first hut Specimen Point Hut. It’s only 15 kms in and even though it isn’t a particularly climby track, it is quite taxing – very bumpy and sometimes the little ups take more out of you than the grinding hill climbs – well I find anyway – one of those that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it moments…..
This is a very narrow track with huge drop-offs in places – you don’t want to be loosing your balance and putting your foot down in the wrong place – good night nurse! It is all about riding sensibly though – to your ability and not trying to be a hero. I’m the first to admit there were a few times I got off and walked – they weren’t hard sections but my brain was getting a little fuzzy and the co-ordination was slipping a bit at times. Nothing that a stop and refuel didn’t help fix.
Beautiful probably isn’t a descriptive enough word for this ride and the surroundings – it is almost unimaginably beautiful – if that could be possible. Certainly has plenty of wow – not quite around every corner but pretty darn close. Even the bush sections are stunning – almost felt like a dinosaur should be picking at the foliage from the trees. Thankfully they weren’t – I would have been having some good hallucinations then eh!
This end of the track is a great trail of variations – one minute you are in the thick of the forest and the next out on a cliff-edge with wonderful views up the Mokihinui River. You can be riding right along side – although quite a drop off to the bottom. The water in places looks incredibly inviting – beautiful deep greens. There are numerous little creek crossings – great way to help cool you down.
A couple of the suspension bridges take your breath away – not just the views but the mind plays those little tricks and I start thinking “hope they did a really good load test on this……” coming back (remember I’m getting tired now) I actually thought “what did Indiana Jones do when the bridge broke? Drop the bike and hang on for dear life” – yeah yeah I know. It’s ok I stopped just after this and refueled again!
Stephen was great on this ride, constantly checking I was doing ok – I possibly told little white lies a couple of times but as I said above I really REALLY wanted to get to Specimen Point hut – I knew it would blow him away. Time was marching on though and we still had to bike back out. Crossing the second “suicide swingbridge” we met some runners and asked how much further to the hut – only about 3 maybe 4 kms to go. We can do it!!! There was a downhill section (uh oh going to have to climb back up that later….) and we could see the hut up on the hill on the other side of the creek. One more swingbridge and a gentle climb to reach it.
Wahoo!!!! How is this for a view.
Quick bite to eat and time to head back out – we’re hoping it is going to be slightly more down than gradual up coming in thus making it a slighter quicker ride too. It is generally easier going back out than in – think maybe because you know where you are going – you have points of reference for where you are on the trail. Also it was more flat, gentle down – or seemed it anyway. I had a couple of wobbly moments – good indication of refuel time again to help get me to the end. Gu – you work wonders for me!
Final climb out and final downhill to the start of the track proper before just a km or there about of 4WD track back to the car – whoop, whoop Old Ghost Road Mokihinui end we love you and we’ll be back – hopefully real soon. (You can see by the look on someone’s face other than “Mums” – had enough, tired too! – think just wants dinner.)
Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth. They enjoy getting out and exploring the many things there are to see and do on the West Coast. Follow their blog and their adventures of the West Coast of the Southern Alps.