West Coast Wilderness Trail – Old Christchurch Road to Cowboys Paradise


It sure is nice to be back out on the bike again.  Not much time for riding over our busy summer season so we’ve (yes I do mean I’ve) been trying to get motivated to get some more time in the saddle.

west coast wilderness trail forest of green

When Stephen suggested taking a drive so we could do an alternative to our normal version of the West Coast Wilderness Trail I was all for it.  Our latest jaunt was to park at the Old Christchurch Road at start of the Kawhaka Water Race and bike out to Cowboys Paradise in the Upper Arahura Valley – and back again of course.

west coast wilderness trail flowing water

The day wasn’t perfect but was better than forecast – rain was predicted.  It was overcast but not overly cold.  It had rained overnight so the trail was wet in places but we were blessed with patches of blue sky and occasional blasts of sunshine.  Certainly made all the creeks and rivers look super stunning.

To be honest though, when we arrived at the Old Chch Road the last thing I wanted to do was go biking.  I’d developed a pounding headache and to top it off an upset tummy – really, in the short space of a 1/2 hour car ride!  gggrrrrr.  Well we didn’t come all this way only to drive home again so I popped a couple of pills and off we headed.  It was possibly the most uncomfortable 1/2 hour or so of biking I’ve ever done but thankfully the Panadol kicked in eventually and I could start enjoying the ride for what it is – gorgeous West Coast scenery.

west coast wilderness trail through the beech forest

It is a stunning trail of contrasts, initially following the Kawhaka Water Race through to the weir where it meets the Kawhaka River.  Here the trail heads through an old logging tram line in the regenerating native Beech forest skirting the edge of the river up into the valley.  Yes I say up – it is a deceptive track in the respect that you think it is a flat meander but it is actually a gradual climb in this direction for the most part.

west coast wilderness trail swingbridge

Eventually the trail meets with the Waitaiki reserve and we enter an ancient Podocarp Forest as it makes its descent down through the forest and over a fantastic swingbridge spanning a deep gorge. Down, down, down complete with “caution steep grade” signage – mmmmm going to have to bike back up this……

west coast wilderness trail fairyland

After crossing the swingbridge there is a  bit more riding through ancient forest – some of the greenest forest with the trees literally dripping with moss, simply magic.

west coast wilderness trail admiring the views

We round the corner to come to Cowboys Paradise with a bit more forest riding to reach our final destination in the Upper Arahua Valley with an aptly placed bench seat to sit and admire the fabulous views down into the valley below.

west coast wilderness trail cowboys paradise

A quick snack and time to turn around and do it all in reverse.  We anticipate the ride to be a bit quicker on the way out – since there is more of a meander down than the meander up coming in.  Of course we have to negotiate the winding switchbacks back up from the swingbridge first but that doesn’t end up being as difficult as I thought it would be in my mind.

west coast wilderness trail water race reflections

Soon enough we are zipping our way back along the river’s edge through to the water race and back to the car.  The clouds have all rolled in again but they add some atmosphere to the water race – giving some wonderful late afternoon reflections.  Despite the start, all in all a great afternoon out on the bike and some miles in the legs – got to be good for me!

Jan and Stephen run Breakers Boutique Accommodation on the Great Coast Road north of Greymouth.  They enjoy getting out and about and exploring their backyard.

 

 

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About coastingnz

Jan and Stephen live on the Punakaiki coastline, north of Greymouth on the West Coast, NZ and run Breakers Boutique Accommodation. They both enjoy the outdoors and are passionate about things to see and do on the West Coast and would like to share their experiences with you.
This entry was posted in cycling, Mountain biking New Zealand, Nature, NZ flora and fauna, outdoors, photography, Travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to West Coast Wilderness Trail – Old Christchurch Road to Cowboys Paradise

  1. loravenkova13 says:

    Beautiful photos!

  2. Pat says:

    I think I could spend a lot of time on that bench! Fantastic view. 🙂

  3. That last shot: Nobody does reflection lakes like New Zealand. –Curt

  4. Mama says:

    Absolutely fabulous!!! I have been out on my bike almost every day for the last couple of weeks but not surrounded by this beautiful scenery. 👍

    • coastingnz says:

      I can see we’re going to have to take you on our trail next visit…… and perhaps we need to do the Otago Rail Trail together too? Dad could be our trail transport…… food for thought 🙂

  5. Mama says:

    absolutely…

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