They did it! – riding the West Coast Wilderness Trail. Two families bike touring with kids (4 adults and 3 kids) over 3 days and 2 nights!

Reading stories about cycling adventures helps to connect you to other women who ride and makes you think about what you and/or your family could achieve. It’s that story of another family or women having completed a bike adventure that makes you wonder if you or your family can. A story that made you believe you can. Its that little piece of advice, or that must do, or must stay, that helps with the planning and preparation and helps make your adventure successful and special.

Read the details of their bike adventure at The West Coast Wilderness Trail – Planning and Preparation

Scroll through the photos in the slider of the bike trip – check out the amazing scenery and wonderfully graded trail.

Kids highlights:

The kids enjoyed the ride though they suffered from the common complaint of the days being quite long on the bike and sore cycling legs. The second day of 37km uphill was the hardest, but the 11 year old found it manageable. The climb was not that noticeable as it seemed gradual. There was never any need to get off and walk the bike. Riding the switchbacks from Cowboy Paradise down to Arahura river was cool, and the swing bridges.

West Coast Wilderness Trail shooting cowboy paradise goRideCowboy Paradise not only offers accommodation, a saloon but some true cowboy activities like the cowboy action shooting range which the kids thought was awesome fun. You got to use a real pistol and shoot at some targets. The ride did get the thumbs up from the kids and they would recommend it to their friends and other families.  They didn’t think they would do it again mainly because there are a lot more adventures to be had on other bike trails.

Adults highlights:

The trip well exceeded their expectations. It was a great family trip with lots of diversity and history – coastal riding, alpine outlook with  snow capped mountains, rivers, beautiful reservoirs, lakes and some west coast quirkiness like the second nights accommodation at Cowboy Paradise. The trail was well graded and the surface made for pleasant riding and a great fit for families bike touring.

Having the The West Coast Wilderness riders handbook enabled the trail and environment we were riding through to come alive. The trail notes give you an understanding of the history and the stories of the land (the whenua) and the people (tangata whenua)

Day One Highlights – Whether you are starting or finishing your journey in Greymouth make sure you start at the Greymouth Railway Station. “It was great to get the perspective of Greymouth from the top of the stopbank, see the Greymouth bar, and the activity of the river.”  The Greymouth seaside Top 10 Holiday Park is about 7km along the trail and it would be easy and a shame to miss out this section.

008It was quite invigorating crossing the Taramakau  bridge the only remaining combined road and rail bridge left in NZ. You need to make sure you keep your tyres out of the grooves of the rail track. The guide book suggests riding in the middle of the tracks and dismounting your bike to ride over the rail tracks to get to the middle – especially in the wet. If you are not feeling confident then simply walk over the bridge.

Day Two Highlights – There is a worthwhile side trip to LondonDerry, this huge rock, the guide books claim potentially the largest in the world! The resevoirs, forest and following the water races was magical.

Day Three Highlights – the gentle switchbacks is a thrill descending from Cowboy Paradise. Also enjoying the large recreational Lake Kaniere.

Here are some other factors that made this bike adventure a success;

  • Waiting for a good weather window – We delayed the start of our adventure by 2 days due to weather conditions. If the trip had started on the day planned we would have been faced with an early introduction to very wintery conditions – cold, wet, sleet. Instead we were blessed with the calm after the storm.  The great days allowed us to enjoy the scenery, topped off with the mountains capped in snow.  “To miss the amazing scenes of the mountains and lakes because I now know how amazing they are, would have been disappointing.”  Having the flexibility to begin the ride in a good weather window (which for many is not always possible) made the trip so much more enjoyable.
  • The trail is really well signposted so you always know where you are.

Well I know that these stories have inspired myself and my family to start thinking about how and when we will goRide The West Coast Wilderness Trail. I hope it will get you thinking, planning and riding.


Thanks for reading. Used together our stories and resources support you to achieve and develop as a rider. 

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