West Coast Wilderness Trail

Ross New Zealand
Image by NT Franklin from Pixabay

My second choice is based in my home region of the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island.  This awe inspiring coast line is one of the most rugged in the world. That makes it perfect for crazy cyclists! With rugged shorelines just waiting to be explored, the West Coast Wilderness Trail is one of the country’s smoothest and most accessible trails. Your journey will take you through ancient rainforest, along glacial rivers, around moody lakes and across some pretty stunning wetlands. There is so much to see and do on this trail that you will want to give yourself a few days to explore the 135.5km trail.

Fascinating natural and human history is revealed as this trail retraces old packhorse tracks, tramlines, railways and even water races, linked by new, flowing single track. Stretching from the ‘big smoke’ of Greymouth to the creaky gold town of Ross, it offers deep immersion in the Coast’s world-famous scenery as well as a journey back in time to the days of the Māori pounamu (greenstone) gatherers and the glittering gold rush era.

Queen Charlotte Track – Top places to bike in NZ

Queen Charlotte Bay
Image by Simon Steinberger from Pixabay

Carrying on from my previous blog subjects. I hope I have been able to give you a glimpse of what it is like to live in our idyllic island nation – The land of the long white cloud – New Zealand.

New Zealand is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. From our amazing walks to cruising the waters to skydiving out of aeroplanes – there are so many ways to see our beautiful country. One of the most popular is cycling. Whether it’s on the road or off-road, we love our cycling here in New Zealand. With new tracks and trails opening all the time as well as some of our most popular walking tracks being converted to dual use, there has never been a better time to dust off your bike and get out and see the country via the best way possible – cycling.

Stunning scenery and varied local attractions will compete for your attention as you explore New Zealand’s diverse cycle trails and mountain biking tracks.

Let me give you a guided tour of some of the great rides of New Zealand.

SOUTH ISLAND NEW ZEALAND GREAT RIDES

QUEEN CHARLOTTE TRACK

This first one is in my very own “back yard” The Queen Charlotte Track is one of my favourite places in New Zealand to explore. Located at the top of the South Island, this is a great example of a walking trail that has been converted for dual use, allowing cyclists to enjoy this fabulous area. With stunning coastal views, native bush and the stunning Marlborough Sounds for company, this is a challenging bike trail covering 70km split into three sections. One section of the track is closed to cyclists during the busy summer months but other than that, the track is available all year round.

I find some sections of the track easier to walk and I will likely need to push my bike in certain parts. But if you are fit and experienced at mountain biking, most of the track is very rideable, albeit steep and challenging in certain sections, especially when rain has rendered it slippery and muddy.

Rakiura Track

Rakiura Track Stewart Island NZ 01

On the Rakiura Track you’ll discover peace, birdsong and scenery that has barely changed in thousands of years.

New Zealand’s third island, Stewart Island is the place to find peace and solitude, surrounded by a habitat that has changed little for thousands of years.

During the day, your feet will find the rhythm of the trail; at night you’ll be lulled to sleep by the “morepork” call of owls and the occasional screech of a kiwi bird. Stewart Island has a huge bird population.

While people number less than 400, the island’s rich, pure podocarp forest is a sanctuary for native birds. The track itself follows the open coast, climbs over forested ridges and traverses sheltered coastline. Most of the track is board-walked. Beautiful wilderness beaches are a special feature; Māori Beach was once the site of a Māori (the native people of New Zealand) village.

Stewart Island’s largest town, Oban, is home to a range of accommodation – make sure to stay a few days before or after your walk to explore more of the island. Bluff, where the ferry leaves from, offers very limited places to stay. If you’re catching a flight to Stewart Island, you will need to catch it from New Zealand’s most Southern City, Invercargill.

Kepler Track

Kepler Track
Image by Gerralt van Soest from Pixabay

This awe-inspiring track was designed to show you all the best features of Fiordland – mountains, native forest, waterfalls and glacier-carved valleys.

Unlike many other multi-day walks, which evolved from Māori greenstone trails or pioneer exploration routes, the Kepler Track was custom-made – built for pleasure, rather than necessity.

Opened in 1988, the track was carefully planned to show walkers all the best features of Fiordland – moss-draped beech forest, prolific bird life, tussock high country, huge mountain ranges, cascading waterfalls, vast glacier-carved valleys, luxuriant river flats and limestone formations. The track’s construction makes for easier walking. Most streams are bridged, boardwalks cover boggy areas and the very steep sections have steps. Walk the Kepler and you’ll see everything that’s marvellous about this exquisite corner of the world.

Manapouri and Te Anau are handy to the entry/exit points of the Kepler Track. Both towns have great restaurants, quality accommodation and fantastic alpine lake scenery. The alpine resort town of Queenstown is 2 hours’ drive away, and is home to a large range of places to stay and things to see and do.

Milford Track

Milford
Image by ken lecoq from Pixabay

New Zealand’s most famous walk, the Milford Track has been thrilling hikers for more than 150 years. The alpine and fiord scenery is as perfect as ever.

Around 100 years ago, in an article that appeared in the London Spectator, the poet Blanche Baughan declared the Milford Track to be ‘The finest walk in the world’.

Arguably New Zealand’s most famous walk, the 53 kilometre journey begins at the head of Lake Te Anau, and leads you across suspension bridges, board walks and a mountain pass. The Milford Track will show you pristine lakes, sky-scraping mountain peaks and enormous valley views; and it will take you to feel the misty breath of Sutherland Falls, the tallest waterfall in New Zealand.

On a sunny day it is postcard perfect but some walkers say that only when it rains, and torrents of water cascade down the steep mountainsides, have you truly experienced the magic of the Milford Track.

The lakeside town of Te Anau is the gateway to Fiordland National Park and the Milford Track. Great restaurants, quality accommodation in a remarkable alpine setting make Te Anau a very appealing place to prepare for (or recover from) walking the Milford Track. A few hours’ drive from Te Anau is the bustling town of Queenstown, home to a large range of accommodation and things to do.