West Coast Wilderness Trail cyclist goRideThe goRide Way get ReadyTwo families – 4 adults and 3 kids (11 and 15 year old boys and a 20 year old girl) planned and prepared for an adventurous ride, bike touring the West Coast Wilderness Trail over 3 days and 2 nights!

To follow is the story of how they “got ready” for their ride and what you may need to think about to “get ready” for a ride like this.

You can use the The Kids Guide to Riding – Planning & Preparation to help you with your preparation.

Get Ready to goRide – The West Coast Wilderness Trail – Greymouth to Hokitika. Bike touring with Kids get ready bike kids guide plan destination goRide

PLAN the destination.  They chose 103km of the West Coast Wilderness Trail. Riding from Greymouth to Hokitika. Note you can continue on this trail another 36km to Ross (a total of 139km).  A good website to help with the planning of your trip is the westcoastwildernesstrail.

Or there are some books available that include descriptions of the trail:

  1. The West Coast Wilderness Trail.   Specifically about this trail. Designed as a riders handbook and to help users to understand the rich heritage of the trail. A good percentage of the sale of each book goes towards the promotion and maintenance of the trail. Fantastic! You can download this handbook for $4.00 from this link. Alternatively if you still enjoy the printed version The Greymouth i site (at time of writing) have them available for $9.00 plus $3.00 postage. Make contact at info@westcoasttravel.co.nz to inquire about purchasing the book.
  2.  The New Zealand Cycle Trails. Nga Haerenga  by Jonathan Kennett or Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails by The Kennett Brothers.  These books also contain other New Zealand cycle trails so are good value for money if you plan on doing more than one trail.

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What did their trip look like?

The families stayed overnight at the Greymouth Seaside Top 10 Holiday Park.  So they were able to set off in good time for their first day of biking.

These families are chosing to do the trail with two support vehicles.

Day One

Biking – Greymouth to Kumara 30km.

Accommodation – They stayed in a cottage at Kumara. Check out www.kumarawestcoast.org.  A fantastic website showcasing all Kumara has to offer. Voluntarily maintained by a local – only on the  West Coast.

Car Shuttle – An hour of traveling for 2 adults in the morning driving 2 vehicles to Kumara then returning to Greymouth in one vehicle to start the bike. Once they reached their destination of Kumara by bike, 2 adults drove the car back to pick up the remaining vehicle at Greymouth and then drove the 2 vehicles back to join the rest of the family in Kumara.

Day Two:

Biking – Kumara to Cowboy Paradise 37km. This is the hardest day as you are going uphill and there are a few steep parts (only a few though).

Accommodation – Stayed at Cowboy Paradise.

Car Shuttle – The only road access to Cowboy Paradise is via Hokitika. Therefore the families decided to be self sufficient on day two and day three of their bike ride through to Hokitika. That meant an hour of car travel, shuttling 2 vehicles to Hokitika from Kumura and then driving one back to start day 2 biking from Kumara.

Day Three:

Biking – Cowboy Paradise to Hokitika 36km. This was where these families chose to end their biking adventure. The trail continues on another 36km to Ross. This would have added another day to their journey (Day Four) if they had continued onto Ross.

Car shuttle – On arriving at their final destination in Hokitika 2 adults drove up to Kumara to collect the other vehicle and drove back to Hokitika.

See the Westcoastwilderness trail website for great reviews of what you can expect from each of the four days.

get ready bike kids guide prep the gear goRide

PREP your gear.  All riders were riding their own bikes (some were mountain bikes, some hybrids) with all the adults and the two older kids carrying their gear in panniers and a dry bag on the back of a carrier. Though they did have support vehicles they had to be self sufficient and able to carry their gear as they had no access to their vehicles from the start of day two through to the completion of day three

What did they carry?

Check out Am I Safe to Bike Tour for personal gear they needed to keep them safe while they biked. Remember they were self sufficient day 2 and 3. Therefore they needed to take any further clothing they thought was necessary for the 2 days of biking and the overnight stay. (Make note that the West Coast can throw any type of weather at you, at any time of the year – so they needed to be prepared for all weather conditions).  They also took food for biking – day 2.  Breakfast and food for biking – day 3. They stayed in cabins and enjoyed the smorgasbord roast meal at Cowboy Paradise so they did not need any sleeping equipment or food for the day two evening meal.  Note: there is also breakfast and packed lunch options from Cowboy Paradise.

get ready bike kids prep fitness goRide

PREP their fitness/skills.  Due to the limited number of places to stay on the trail, the kids and adults need to have enough endurance to ride 30-40km to be able to complete this trail. Therefore building to this level of endurance is important. Some of that distance will also be going up a gradual incline – primarily on day 2 of the ride.  As they say in the guide books, the views are just as good if you have to get off and walk your bike. Though back yourself here, the need to do this will not be too often or hopefully not at all. Remember if you are bike touring you and the kids will also need to be able to get up in the morning and repeat this distance on day 2, 3 and 4 (depending on the number of days on the trail).  The guide books describe the trail as primarily Grade 2 (easy) with an excellent smooth generally gravel surface for riding on.  It is a trail achievable for families. The age of the children and that these two families are reasonably active meant they were able to comfortably complete and enjoy the ride with little fitness preparation. This may be different for you and your family.

get ready bike kids guide prep kids goRide

PREP the kids. It is great for the kids to be able to see and understand where they are going and what is expected of them. You may need to set goals and put some activities in place before the adventure to help them build their confidence/skills and endurance. Get them involved in the planning and preparation. See these stories on how kids can each have a task and skills to do to help plan and prepare for a bike adventure.

There are lots of different ways to mix and match the West Coast Wilderness Trail. The direction you ride, Greymouth to Ross, or in the other direction Ross to Greymouth. How many days would you do it in – maybe you can do the trail in three, or maybe you want to explore more of the area and the history and do it over more than four? Do you only do part of the trail, or maybe you choose the section that appeals to you most and have a great ‘day’ on the bike. The type of accommodation, the time of the year, do you use the support services available.  This will all affect how you and/or your family might plan your adventure.

There are some great biking related services for the West Coast Wilderness Trail that may support you and help with your planning.

Shuttles: Wilderness trail shuttles offer transport for bags, bikes and bikers. Talk to them about your plans they are keen to support you whether your doing a day trip or tackling the whole track.

Accomodation: Check out the West Coast Wilderness Trail website as well as the other links provided for accommodation options. You could also consider staying at Lake Kaniere. A short ride from the trail will give you accommodation options like the Lake Kaniere Hans Bay DOC Campground or the  Lake Kaniere homestay

Bike Hire: There are bike hire options – check out the West coast Wilderness Trail website.

Our family which includes an 8 year old girl and a 10 year old boy, think this is an achievable family bike adventure. Our 8 year old girl will need to continue to work on her endurance to be able to ride these distances, but by the end of summer having completed some good distance day rides, and a couple of overnight biking adventures, we think we will be ready to goRide The West Coast Wilderness Trail. What about your family?


Thanks for reading.  Used together our stories and resources support you to achieve and develop as a rider. Do it, at your own pace, in your own time, in a fun, supported way – the goRide way.

Related goRide Resources:

get ready to goRide – The Kids Guide

goRide is a shared journey, so we would like you to assist in guiding it along the way. Contact goRide. Your thoughts, comments or feedback are welcome. Thank you for being a part of the goRide way.