From the ‘big smoke’ of Greymouth to the gold town of Ross, the West Coast Wilderness Trail winds through ancient rainforests, along glacial rivers, past peaceful lakes and beside rugged coastline. Charming trailside towns provide an insight into the region’s glittering gold rush era, as well as all the comforts of home after a long day’s riding.
The wide and smooth West Coast Wilderness Trail is split up into four sections of around 30 km between Greymouth and Ross. This makes it easy for families and those lacking time or cycling experience to enjoy a short spin or day ride. E-bikes are well suited to the trail and there’s plenty of scenic spots to recharge both yours and your bike’s batteries.
Largely flat terrain means the trail can be started at either end — local guides usually recommend riding south to north. If you do it this way around, day one starts at the charming township of Ross, known for its gold mining past and fossicking present. Hire a gold pan and head up Jones Creek or pan undercover at the Ross Goldfields Information & Heritage Centre. Then hop on your bike for bridge crossings, mountain views, historic tram lines, finishing up in the ‘Coast’s coolest little town of Hokitika.
Days two and three take you along a 19th-century water race to glacial Lake Kaniere, up to the scenic Kawhaka Pass for views of the Southern Alps, and down smooth sweeping boardwalk and bush trail into historic Kumara.
Ending in Greymouth, the final day winds through regenerating forest and farmland then alongside the pounding Tasman Sea – with a detour to Shantytown Heritage Park for those looking for an all-senses immersion into the West Coast's pioneering past.
There is plenty of accommodation close to the trail in Greymouth, Kumara, Hokitika and Ross, as well as smaller settlements along the trail.
There are several shuttle and luggage transfer services that make it easy to complete the whole trail, or just sections of it. Kiwi Journeys offer an all-inclusive self-guided package which includes shuttles, food, accommodation and trailside activities. Cycle Journeys can provide bike hire, luggage transfers, shuttles or self-guided packages in partnership with Wilderness Shuttles. Guided tours can be booked with Adventure South.
Check the official trail websites for more trail information, updates and gear recommendations.