Three top West Coast mountain biking experiences this autumn
With a scorching summer behind us, Tai Poutini’s Outdoor Education Director Dave Ritchie says that now’s a great time to explore some of the West Coast’s wide variety of mountain bike trails.
The Coast’s ambitious and passionate riders have worked tirelessly over recent years, creating a network of trails to suit all riding abilities. Dave reckons now’s the time to enjoy them – cooler days and a little dampness in the air makes trails less dusty, more pleasurable to ride, and they are certainly less crowded than in the busy summer months.
So – where are Dave’s top spots?
Riding the whole family can enjoy
The West Coast Wilderness Trail is one of the country's smoothest and most accessible cycle trails. Sit back, relax and just soak up the scenery, winding your way through ancient rainforests, along glacial rivers, around moody lakes and across wetlands. Rest those legs at the cafes and restaurants dotted along the way.
Confident riders will enjoy it equally – in fact, riders on Tour Aotearoa last year voted it the best in the country. You can do all 140 kilometres at once - across four days - or just nab the odd day-trip. Either way, it's a fairly spectacular way to journey through the Coast.
(Photograph by Schwede66, distributed under a CC-BY 2.0 license)
Weekend away with good mates?
At the top end of the adventure scale is the renowned Old Ghost Road. This trail is quickly gaining in popularity since opening less than three years ago, but ride it now and you’ll still be one of the first to experience its majesty.
Leading edge trail design combines with phenomenal scenery to create this truly exceptional riding experience. While traditionally huts on New Zealand’s backcountry trails were developed from original deer hunter huts, Old Ghost Road’s huts are purpose built in the most spectacular locations and well set up for riders’ comfort (think coffee percolators and comfy mattresses).
The trail is 85kms long and technical, traversing majestic native forest, open tussock tops, river flats and isolated valleys along a long-forgotten gold miners’ dray road. While a smart booking system means there’s plenty of room even in peak season, during autumn there is less need to book much in advance, making it the perfect weekend escape for those of us lucky enough to live nearby.
Something brand new?
Even closer to home, the Westland Mountain Bike Club is a very active crew of volunteer trail builders, living their passion and creating some fantastic tracks. Check out the range of tracks they have opened up at Hokitika’s Blue Spur bike park, within easy biking distance of township.
Just opened is a new climbing trail, nicknamed ‘Upcycle’. A huge amount of work has gone into this fabulous trail, which climbs up through the forest through a flowing track network. Access is simple, thanks to the group’s solid relationship with Ngai Tahu and forestry operators.
Whatever your riding ability, our stunning West Coast backyard offers riding for everyone. Get out and enjoy it this autumn.