While the West Coast is big on backcountry biking adventures (such as the Paparoa Track and Old Ghost Road), there’s also plenty of gentler options for day riders or freewheeling families.
Here are three of our favourite West Coast rides, with options for both guided and self-guided adventures to suit all abilities.
Ancient rainforests, glacial rivers and rugged coastline
Alongside natural wonders, the four-day West Coast Wilderness Trail’s small towns and heritage sites offer a chance to delve deep into the region’s fascinating history. Do the whole thing, or dip in for a day-ride. You can complete the trail in either direction, but guided tours usually start in Ross and travel north to Greymouth.
Starting in Greymouth, day one winds alongside the pounding Tasman Sea, through regenerating forest and farmland – with a detour to Shantytown Heritage Park for those looking for a 4D taste of the ‘Coast's pioneering past. Day two gently winds up to Kawhaka Pass, with sightings of snow-capped peaks and more remnants of the gold rush. Day three, it’s mainly downhill to the ‘Coast’s coolest little town of Hokitika, with the option for an invigorating dip in Lake Kaniere en route. Nearby Hokitika Gorge is well worth a detour, with its stunning yet surreal turquoise waters.
A great day-ride option for families and beginners, the final day’s ride offers bridge crossings, mountain views, historic tram lines, a tidal lagoon and more gold panning potential when you finally reach the quiet township of Ross.
Trail length: 133 km
Grade: 2 (easy) with some Grade 3 (intermediate)
Trail length: Currently 19.5km (final trail will be 55km)
Grade: 2 (easy)
Trail updates: Kawatiri Coastal Trail website
Wilderness, wildlife, and pristine wetlands
Wild West Coast scenery and local history meet on the new, family-friendly Kawatiri Coastal Trail that will eventually connect Westport with Charlestown (stopping at Carters Beach, Cape Foulwind and Tauranga Bay).
With the rugged Tasman Sea on one side and the majestic Paparoa Range on the other, riders will have many sights to spot along the grade 2, 55km trail. Alongside stunning coastal views, there’s wilderness, wildlife, and pristine wetlands to be crossed via boardwalks and suspension bridges. Interpretive signage tells the story of significant Māori and European heritage sites along the trail.
This summer, get a taste of what’s to come on the Pūwaha section of the Kawatiri Coastal Trail, which offers an easy 5km ride through pristine wetlands from Westport to Carters Beach (Westport).
Keep going for 14km on the next two stages – Kawau and Omau – and you will reach Tauranga Bay, home to one of New Zealand’s most accessible seal colonies.
Detour for: Carter’s Beach (a long, sandy swimming beach), Cape Foulwind Walkway, Tauranga Seal Colony.
Bike and hike to a spectacular secret glacier viewpoint
Spot the magnificent ice flow from a new perspective on a guided e-bike and hike. E-bikes make easy work of the hills and winding rainforest trails, then your legs get more of a work-out as you slowly gain height on a secret track to a viewpoint with the clearest views of the glacier’s terminal face. Soak in the view and the local guide’s stories of explorers past, before descending via the same track to pick up your e-bike and enjoy the easy ride back down to Fox Glacier village.
Never been on an e-bike before or forgot to BYO hiking boots? No worries. The guides give you a quick lesson, and kit you out with all the equipment you need for the adventure.
More of an independent explorer? Self-guided e-biking tours are an excellent option in Fox Glacier too. Hire your rig for a half or full day and explore your surroundings. Must-dos include the 5km ride to stunning Lake Matheson, famous for its mirror views of Aoraki/Mount Cook and Mount Tasman, and the journey west to Gillespie’s Beach where 11,000 years ago you would have stood in front of the Fox Glacier’s terminal face. Nowadays you can spot remnants of a gold-mining ghost town, a seal colony and stunning views of the Southern Alps from the coastal tracks.