Planning on riding the West Coast Wilderness Trail? Contact us so we can help you plan your trail itinerary.
The four-day West Coast Wilderness Trail runs down the West Coast of the South Island between Greymouth and Ross, through Kumara, Lake Kaniere, Hokitika, and Mahinapua. The landscape and history are both major features. The trail varies between wild coastlines, dense rainforest, glacial rivers and lakes, wetlands, along with logging tramways, back-country roads, and disused railway lines. To the east the snow-capped Southern Alps rise sharply above while to the west the rough, south-Tasman Sea slams the coast.
The trail can be ridden in either direction, the full length, or section by section. Most of the trail is now off-road, with new sections opening each year. It is generally a very easy gradient, with the only steady up-hill section occurring on the approach to the quirky Cowboy Paradise inland from Hokitika. The trail is described below for riders heading north to south, broken into four sections.
Section 1: Greymouth to Kumara (29 km)
From Greymouth, a short ride will take you out to the Greymouth Bar where the Southern Breakwater provides good views of the coast ahead. The trail then follows an easy coastal section through Paroa, over the Taramakau River and up to the historic town of Kumara where you can enjoy some warm, tasty treats.
Section 2: Kumara to Cowboy Paradise (34 km)
The trail continues inland, over wetland boardwalks past two freshwater reservoirs before starting the climb up to Cowboy Paradise - a mock western town. This also has some of the best forest sections of the route!
Section 3: Cowboy Paradise to Hokitika (36km)
Give the legs a break on a nice descent back towards the coast. There are plenty of nicely formed tracks through the inland forest. If the weather is right, stop for a dip in Lake Kaniere, a popular summer recreation spot. There is a rich history with much of this trail following the route used by Maori greenstone gatherers, or water races from gold mining days. Once into Hokitika, there are plenty of shops and cafes to enjoy.
Section 4: Hokitika to Ross (33km)
The home stretch does have a few on-road sections to navigate, but wide shoulders keep you well away from the traffic. After following the ocean, the journey joins the old Mahinapua Tramline and around the inland side of Lake Mahinapua. A short back-track on the highway gets you onto a historic railway line complete with several impressive wooden bridges. Quiet back-roads take you back into Ross to complete this amazing journey back in time.