Showing posts with label West Coast. Show all posts
Showing posts with label West Coast. Show all posts

April 23, 2015


New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Hamner Springs to Reefton

This route at the top of the South Island is an option to get from the east coast of the South Island to the west coast if you are heading that way. It is also one of the best rides in the South Island.
From Hamner Springs the road leads you to the Lewis Pass and includes beach forest and mountain scenery especially after the Engineers Camp which is 50 kilometres from Hamner Springs. After a steady 4kilometre climb you arrive at the Lewis Pass which is the most northern crossing of the Southern Alps into Westland. The reward after taking in the views is a long downhill ride to Maruia Springs, where there is a small settlement with a shop where you can have coffee and stock up on previsions.
After a few kilometres the road climbs over a low saddle and then there is approximately another 40 kilometres of mainly downhill riding in beautiful scenery again in mature beech forest with mountains as a backdrop. Reefton is a well-established gold and coal mining town with a backpackers and all amenities.

Towards Reefton

South Island Robin

May 17, 2014


New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Arthurs Pass - Greymouth to Christchurch

Arthur's Pass is the central one of the three road crossings of the Southern Alps. The others are Lewis Pass, some 100 km to the north and Haast Pass, 230km to the south.

Arthur's Pass is also the name of a town on the crossing which is 95km from Greymouth and 140km from Christchurch. Arthur's Pass is also the National Park by the same name which is very popular for tramping/hiking, skiing and mountaineering. The road and its environs are spectacular and make the crossing on a bike a memorable but arduous journey.

 Although the most direct access to Arthur's Pass from the West Coast is via SH73 up the Taramakau River Valley, there is an alternative route via Lake Brunner and this is an attractive option for cyclists.

The Lake Brunner option involves an overnight stop at the small rather cute township of Moana on the shore of Lake Brunner. This is a good days ride from Greymouth, along a lightly trafficked road that follows much the same route as the trans alpine railway.  The countryside is river valley with some dairy farms, scrub country and pine forest. Facilities at Moana include a camping ground, two pubs and a very small convenience store.

From Moana the route to Arthur's Pass joins SH73 at Jacksons on the Taramakau River where there is a camping ground, a pub and very little else. SH73 continues up the main river valley for a while before leaving this and branching off up the Otira River to the tiny settlement of Otira. This is where road leaves the valley and the serious climb to the pass begins. Steep grades on a winding road that includes an overhead avalanche chute across the road, and then the impressive 500 metre long Otira Viaduct. 

This takes you high above unstable scree slopes below and up into kea country. The kea is a mischievous New Zealand native parrot that lives in the high country and delights in stripping rubber window seals from parked cars and pecking day packs, bike seats and panniers given the opportunity. 

Keas at work

The pass is eventually reached (at 920 metres above sea level) and then its downhill to your overnight stop at Arthur's Pass Village or the Bealey Hotel, a few km further on.

The next day’s ride passes through open rolling alpine country for the first 65 km. This is a tussock landscape with accompanying rivers and lakes, and has some spectacular limestone outcrops and formations. Some of this land is still being farmed as high country sheep stations. There is a cafĂ© at Flock Hill which is worth stopping at because beyond this is a section that has the steepest climb of the day.
When Porters Pass (at 950 metres) is reached, the descent to the Canterbury Plains begins. It’s downhill all the way 19km to Springfield for the nights rest at the Springfield Hotel.
The next day the road descends gradually to the Canterbury Plains and across these on long straight stretches of road all the way to Christchurch.

April 15, 2014


New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Westport to Picton

The cycle ride from Westport to Picton alongside the mighty Buller river goes uphill but is not too demanding. It is 97.7 kilometers to Murchison. In Murchison there is a reasonable selection of places to stay. On the road from Westport a lookout needs to be kept for logging trucks although there is not a lot of other traffic and it is a great ride alongside the river.

From Murchison you then go to St Arnaud which is 63.5 kilometres away. Again it is a good ride with little traffic.
At St Arnaud there is accommodation and Lake Rotoiti and the area is a popular tramping and skiing centre. About 7 ks north of St Arnaud on the right is the road to the Rainbow ski field and Rainbow station which then leads onto the Molesworth Station.
The Rainbow and Molesworth Station Ride

The ride from St Arnaud to the Picton ferry is 129 kilometers but the good news is that the road goes downhill for most of the way and includes the Marlborough vineyards where 77% of New Zealand's wine is produced.

Mightly Buller River

Lake Rotoiti

Downhill to Picton


New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Haast to Westport

The first thing that needs to be said is that the west coast of the South Island has a high rainfall with an average of 3,639 mm precipitation a year spread over most months of the year so there is a fair chance of rain at at some stage during the ride.

It is 121 kilometers from Haast to Fox Glacier and then 23.6 kilometers from Fox Glacier to Franz Joseph Glacier and then 134 kilometers to Hokitika. There is then 38.9 kilometers between Hokitika and Greymouth and a further 101 kilometers from Greymouth to Westport making a ride total of 417 kilometers.
 The ride between Greymouth to Westport through Punakaiki is one of the highlights.

The west coast is a great road to ride on with a low traffic density apart from the tourist buses and has spectacular scenery.

Bridge near Haast

Punakaiki Coastline

Punakaki Coastline
Up the coast on a narrow but not busy road