aaaahhhh, biking through native forest into plantation forest and back into native forest. Sun shining high in the sky above the mountain tops. Sometimes our job sucks, working in our outside office, but then someone has to do it I guess……….
Our latest assignment was exploring in the Craigieburn Ecological Area and Forest. Situated inland from Greymouth on the Eastern side of the Paparora mountain range, heading north towards Reefton. We’ve talked about doing this – well for years really. Great to finally make the committment and head off on an adventure on our bikes into some unchartered territory.
We really didn’t know what to expect. We were hoping we could do a loop and looking at our map it kind of looked possible. I say kind of as our map was about 8 years old and being that some of this area was forestry roads you can never be sure if the roads still exist or where they’ll actually end up. Sometimes it can be quite frustrating as you know it is only a matter of a few hundred metres but if the road hasn’t been cut it can be dense forest you have to bash through and you just don’t really know for sure so best to stick to the formed roads.
It was a 4 wheel drive road/track the whole way starting out going through some farm land, then into the native forest and finally into plantation forest. The section through the actual Craigieburn Ecological Area ie the native bush was absolutely beautiful. With the sun filtering through the canopy of the trees and glistening on the foliage and undergrowth, it looked quite magical.
The track was a gradual climb – a nice gradient that slowly took us higher up into the valley towards the Paparoa Ranges. Leaving the native forest behind we soon entered the plantation pine forest. There were some side tracks and we were continually consulting our map, fairly sure we were to just keep going up. Eventually we met a track off to the right and the track we were on became quite overgrown with gorse bush. After getting poked and prodded just a little too much we left our bikes and walked to see if this was actually going to take us anywhere. It appeared we were heading back into native forest which did seem right according to the map but this track obviously hadn’t been used by vehicles for some time and not wanting to risk getting too many punctures – if any, we decided to head back the way we came.
Heading down we spot one of the other tracks to the right (now on our left) and with vehicle tyre marks it looks like a good option for an explore. Coming out of the trees it soon opens up into previously logged areas and towards the native bush again and closer to the Paparoa Ranges. I have a good feeling…. I think I know where this is coming out….. yey, back at the top right before we headed into the gorse part of the track. Now that was a nice little loop – not quite the loop we were looking at on the map but a good workout all the same, gradually climbing up again which means now we get to coast back down.
One more side track – this time to the right as we’re coming down. Again looking on our map, assuming we’ve got the right track, this should bring us out further down the road closer to the car. Why not – we’ll have a look anyway, just five minutes, ok five minutes more – surely…….. ok so maybe not. Starting to run out of time now so better head back to where we at least know we are for sure on the map. Two little boys are waiting “patiently” at home for their dinner……
A nice easy coast down, back into the native forest, passing a couple of forgotten relics along the way. Not your usual forgotten relics – Stephen likes to call them bush art and these guys are huge! Still they add to the atmosphere of the area and to the interest of the ride.
It’s been a great day of exploring some unchartered territory – a great sense of adventure. We only got lost a couple of times so we’ll deem that as a success! Home time now to feed the puppies and relax while watching the sun go down. Life’s hard living on the wonderful West Coast ……………….
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 of the West Coast of the Southern Alps. Named one of the top ten regions in the world to visit by Lonely Planet – we certainly know why!