Wedged between the snow capped peaks of the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea is one of the South Island's most diverse, rugged and beautiful Cycle Trails. Snaking through the dense rainforests, glacial rivers, lakes and wetlands is the West Coast Wilderness Trail - a graded cycle trail formed from a series of tracks originally carved by pioneering gold miners. The track also follows extensive water races, logging tramways and historic railway lines. This 140km trail opens up some of the West Coast’s wildest and most spectacular natural settings, and our supported trip will find the highlights as well as visit some nearby must-see attractions. From Christchurch we cross the Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass to start cycling the trail at Ross. We experience a treetop canopy walk before continuing along the coast to Hokitika and then inland to the serene setting of Lake Kaniere and the spectacular Hokitika Gorge nestled in the Southern Alps. After negotiating some swing bridges and switchback climbs it's all downhill to our accommodation at the beautifully restored historical Theatre Royal Hotel in Kumara. We enjoy a final night at Punakaiki known for its interesting Pancake Rocks before returning to Christchurch, aboard the TranzAlpine Express, one of New Zealand's great train rides.
To determine the grade of a particular adventure we consider a number of factors. These include the condition of the terrain, the altitude, the number of pass crossings and the length of the trip. The West Coast Cycle Trail is graded introductory-moderate. You will need a reasonable level of fitness and we suggest 30 minutes of aerobic type exercise, (either cycling or jogging) three times a week for the three months leading up to your trip. The main factor for this is that the cycling is on hard packed gravel - if you can get in some cycling on gravel before your tour it will make the experience a lot more fun.
From your central Christchurch accommodation we collect you for a bike fitting and briefing at our depot. We then start our drive (approx. 4hrs) across the spectacular Southern Alps via Arthurs Pass, dropping down to the beautiful bush-covered coastal region on the other side, and on to the coastal gold mining town of Ross, where we enjoy a late lunch at a local cafe before starting our first ride on the West Coast Wilderness trail. We follow the cycleway north to Hokitika, with a stop at the tree top walkway, to experience a unique treetop adventure walking on custom built platforms among temperate rainforest giants.
The Southern Alps provide an awesome backdrop for our approach to Hokitika, a quiet coastal town known for the crafting of Pounamu (greenstone) from the West Coast. We stay here for the next two nights.
Cycle Distance: Ross to Hokitika - 33km / 22 miles
Nestled against the alps lies the beautiful Lake Kaniere and today we explore the rural roads that circumnavigate it. Our ride take us through small townships and farms before descending into the Hokitika gorge. Here we enjoy a picnic lunch by the vivid turquoise water of the Hokitika river in a magnificent granite gorge surrounded by lush native bush. In the afternoon we will enjoy a short walk across a swing bridge and further into the gorge to fully appreciate this magical spot. From here we load up and drive back into Hokitika for a second night. There will be time to explore the town and later for a walk on the beach to admire a stunning West Coast sunset (if conditions are right). You will be free to make your own dinner arrangements.
Cycle Distance: Lake Kaniere to Hokitika Gorge - 40 kms / 24 miles
Today we drive back to Lake Kaniere and continue our ride through the amazing bush trails of this cycleway. Firstly on rural roads and then the dedicated trail that takes us to the coffee stop at Milltown, home of saw-milling in earlier times. The trail crosses a swing bridge and then a kilometre of switchback climbing takes us to the highpoint and more superb riding. From here it's mainly downhill, as we follow water races, bush tracks and reservoir roads taking in the spectacular views as we gradually descend to our overnight at Kumara and the beautiful historic hotel that is our accommodation.
Cycle Distance: Lake Kaniere to Kumara - 55 kms / 34 miles
This morning we get back on the bikes for a final ride on the Wilderness trail into Greymouth. The cycle trail takes us alongside a beautiful river before crossing a unique road and rail bridge. From here it is a coastal ride into Greymouth where we enjoy lunch at a local cafe followed by an optional visit to the local Monteith's Brewery for a tour and tasting (own expense), or if you prefer you can use this time to explore Greymouth.
In the afternoon we drive the stunning coastal route from Greymouth to Punakaiki, where we enjoy a series of short walks that give us a full appreciation of the natural beauty in this area.
First is the Pororari River trail (1-2 hours), this track passes through the Pororari River Gorge – a valley lined on both sides by dramatic limestone cliffs and bluffs towering over the gorge and river.
We then take the Truman track (30 mins) through beautiful sub-tropical rainforest of Nikau palms and Rimu before emerging on the rugged and remote Truman Beach.
Our final walk of the day takes us to the iconic Pancake Rocks (30 mins) that Punakaiki is famous for. The fascinating limestone formations began to form 30 million years ago and when conditions are right, heavy ocean swells thunder into the caverns beneath the rocks and huge water spouts blast skywards through the blowholes.
We spend our last night in Punakaiki, a fitting spot to enjoy a final group dinner and reflect on our West Coast adventures.
Cycle Distance: Kumara to Greymouth - 30kms / 19 miles
Waking up beside the wild Tasman Sea for the last time, we start our journey East and back towards Christchurch, but not before one more stunning West Coast ride. We transfer by bus and bike on quiet inland roads through native forests to Lake Brunner. We lunch at a local cafe in the township of Moana, with stunning lakeside views and an option for the hardy to swim. Here we board the famous TranzAlpine Express, rated as one of the top 10 train rides in the world, which takes us on a spectacular journey across the Southern Alps back to Christchurch. On arrival we will drop you off at your central Christchurch accommodation, where trip arrangements conclude.
Cycle Distance: Stillwater to Moana - 25kms / 15 miles
MOUNTAIN BIKE (Additional Charge)
Our new fleet of Avanti Discovery hybrid mountain bikes combines the best characteristics of a hybrid bike and a mountain bike to give you a great ride and comfort on gravel cycle trails. This bike has a more upright riding style meaning you can still take in the amazing scenery you'll encounter along the way.
These bikes have 29" wheels, suspension forks and suspension seat posts to iron out the bumps and hydraulic disc brakes give responsive braking.
They are also available in a low rise, also known as a step though bike frame, please specify on your booking form.
ELECTRIC BIKE (Additional Charge)
Our Avanti Discovery low step e-Bike is perfect for cyclists that may require a little assistance on their travels. Pedalling our e-Bikes is easier on knees and joints than riding a traditional bike. They provide up to 80kms of pedal assistance before requiring recharging. Very simple to operate and they provide people with varying levels of cycling experience, health and fitness levels the opportunity to enjoy our cycling holidays.
For bicycle specifications please contact us for more details.
Bikes can be fitted with flat pedals, toes clips or MTB SPD pedals. A bicycle helmet will be included with your bike rental, along with a 15L saddle bag for personal items you might need in the day.
Bloody excellent! Both Louise and Jo were so fabulous - full of enthusiasm, knowledge, experience and patience. Bikes were great, accommodation fine. River swim on day 4 was great. Allow yourself sufficient time to get over jetlag - at least one day.
Claire N, Newcastle, Australia, 31 Dec 2017
Really enjoyed the trails through the forests. Magical greenery everywhere. The accommodations were just fine with lots of space. I thought the drive down from Arthur's Pass could have been slower or at least reassure people that its a safe and normal pass - my only complaint the whole trip. The guides were wonderful and helped make the tour thoroughly enjoyable. This trip seemed easy enough for both the children to do and it was in NZ, and i'd been trying to get the whole family there for a long time.
Boris N, Newscastle, Australia, 31 Dec 2017
Overall it was definitely one of the best holidays I've ever been on. I enjoyed the length and variety of scenery that came with the cycling and the bikes themselves were comfortable and steady. Overall very good. Cycling up to Cowboy's Paradise was definitely a highlight. I enjoyed the constant switching directions and being rewarded with an increasingly better view of the landscapes below us.
Jack M, Newcastle, Australia, 31 Dec 2017
Stunning West Coast scenery and excellent input and local knowledge from the guides. First day was a little rushed with a long bus ride and a lates lunch. Final motel at Punakaiki wasn't quite up to the standard of the other accommodation. It was a great opportunity to visit a long wished for destination with a well reputed company - you did not disappoint.
Tim R, Australia, 01 Dec 2017
Loved the trip and couldn't have got better guides! Fantastic picnics, thank you Rodger and Sue.
Jennifer I, Rotorua, NZ, 01 Dec 2017
From start to finish our group had the most fantastic time. We were fortunate enough to have 5 days of clear blue skies and temperature in the mid-high 20's. Sublime riding. Great bikes provided, everyone was fitted and kitted before we departed Christchurch. We had walkers (due to recent illness), we had an e-biker and an eclectic mix of others. Our guides Rodger and Fiona were accommodating (it is like herding cats with our lot), they were extremely knowledgeable and a pleasure to share time with. Our accommodation was very clean, our meals were tasty, especially the breakfasts and Stella's in Hokitika. Picnic time lunches on the road were welcome and fulfilling - just what you need while biking. The days were challenging but in a very good way, and if you got tired then the coach was there to retire to. Would highly recommend any age group to get on yer bike and explore the West Coast.
Denise R - Via Trip Advisor
A great way of experiencing New Zealand! Cycling, meeting people, food and exercising. I did not want to finish, only my legs did.
Per Person, Twin Share