They did it! – riding the West Coast Wilderness Trail. A family of 4 bike touring with kids ages 8 and 10 years over 5 days and 4 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, the wonderful graded trail and the smiles.
The kids loved the ride. They enjoyed the motivation that having a signpost every kilometre gave them. Sam the 10 year old boy though tired at the end of each day both mentally and physically completed the ride with ease. Hollie the 8 year old girl had some ups and downs and suffered from the common complaint of the days being quite long on the bike and sore cycling legs. The third day of 37km uphill was the hardest, but it was manageable. There were a few times where Hollie needed to get off and walk her bike (because she was still coming to terms with using a geared bike). Mostly the inclines were quite gradual. Both Sam and Hollie loved the well graded single trail through the forests. Lots of magical moments whizzing through the trees. Riding the switchbacks from Cowboy Paradise down to Arahura river was really cool.
The ride did get the thumbs up from the kids and they would recommend it to their friends and other families. They thought they would do it again maybe when they are a little older. Though they now have the confidence that they can ride that distance and look forward to enjoying another long distance trail. They enjoyed the T shirts that are available from the information centres showcasing “we rode 139km along the Westcoast Wilderness Trail” and they even glow in the dark. Also the food rewards along the way especially Pizza from Fat Pippas Pizza in Hokitika, where we stopped to celebrate on the way home.
They had been told that the ride was amazing but it still 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 staying at Cowboy Paradise. It felt like a privilege to experience this part of New Zealand from a bike. The trail was well graded and the surface made for pleasant riding and a great fit for families bike touring. The single track forest riding was a real joy and to see the kids loving this part of the trail was a highlight.
Having the The West Coast Wilderness riders handbook enabled the trail and environment they 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 – The start of the Westcoast Widerness Trail – Greymouth Seaside Top 10 Holiday Park (7km). Whether you are starting or finishing your journey in Greymouth make sure you start at the Greymouth Railway Station (i site). “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 if you choose to start the trail from here. There is a lot of history of ship wrecks on the Greymouth bar.
Day Two Highlights – Greymouth to Kumara (29km)
It is a coastal ride until you ride over the cycle bridge that is clipped onto the Taramakau bridge – the only remaining combined road and rail bridge left in NZ. After the bridge you turn inland and ride through some scenic forest trails to reach Kumara. The cycle trail is bringing the history of the gold mining town alive. We enjoyed the historic Kumara hotel and across the road you find boards explaining the history of the region.
Day Three Highlights – Kumara to Cowboy Paradise (37km)
There is a worthwhile side trip not far out of Kumara to LondonDerry, this huge rock, the guide books claim potentially the largest in the world! Today you are heading up towards the mountains. On your way you enjoy resevoirs, following the water races, single track through the forest – it was all just magical.
Day Four Highlights – Cowboy Paradise to Hokitika (36km)
This ride is primarily downhill and a great reward for some tired legs following the longer uphill day the day before – this day on the bike seemed to fly by. The switchbacks down to Arahua River from Cowboy Paradise. The beautiful Lake Kaniere (there is a bit of hill to get over before Lake Kaniere which Hollie was not too impressed by following day three). The single trails through the Kaniere water race – again just magical. There is a little bit of road riding on the last stretch into Hokitika. If you haven’t been to Hokitika it is a great little Westcoast coastal town.
Day Five Highlights – Hokitika to Ross (36km)
Now the minds and body were starting to tire. Everyone kept going knowing there were promises of ice cream and a return to Hokitika on the way home to enjoy Fat Pippa pizza. This ride did involve some road riding along State Highway 6 which felt a little challenging after being on back roads and trails the days previous. There was a large grassy shoulder so the kids were instructed to go onto the shoulder any time a car passed.
Here are some other factors that made this bike adventure a success;
- We were on the trail early each morning. Mornings go by much quicker on the bike compared to the afternoons. So your perception of time on the bike is less if you get through most of the kms in the morning. Being at your destination by early afternoon certainly helps to keep the mood up beat and positive and helps with the energy levels into the next day.
- We had amazing weather for all the days on the trail. If the weather wasn’t great, I know the longest uphill day from Kumara to Cowboy Paradise could have been quite challenging. Having some flexibility to do the ride in a good weather window (which for many is not always possible) is worth considering – if it at all possible.
- The trail is so well signposted and graded so you always know where you are and it just makes for pleasant riding
- Having good food on the trail makes this possible with a family. We deliberately had what we termed first and second lunch. One was always a pre-made pasta salad that was made before leaving in the morning and rolls or sandwiches. For our family having 2 good substantial food stops as well as snacks was essential to get us through the biking.
Stop thinking about doing it and goRide The Westcoast Wilderness Trail. Our family did it – with the right planning and preparation yours can to. It will exceed your expectations as an adventure.
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