As most people leaving Golden Bay will do, we made our way to the coast and discovered the wide range of activities the West Coast has to offer, including taking our cycling to a whole new level.
After a final night in Nelson, we made our way over to the West Coast, to a tiny place called Charleston. Here, Stu and Thomas had a go at doing some trad climbing, which means placing your own protection gear instead of using the preplaced bolts. I had a go at catching up some work and did a nice bike ride from Westport to Jack’s Gasthof, a nice campsite with on-site pizzeria, score!
The next morning we drove further down to Punakaiki to do some more – yep, you guessed it – climbing! Unfortunately, the biggest climbing area is closed due to roadworks but the climbing in Punakaiki Valley offers more than enough to keep us busy. Afterwards we headed to the free campspot at Fox River, a nice place close to the beach where we went for a stroll after dinner to watch the sunset. The next morning we made the most of being parked up at the start of a hike and walked to Ballroom Overhang, a massive overhanging rock which involved some interesting streambashing to get there. A really nice valley with some amazing rock features!
Since this was supposed to be our “rest day from climbing”, we headed back to Punakaiki Valley where there is a wall with easy climbs. Nowhere near challenging for us but still good for a fun afternoon of climbing. In the evening Thomas even topped it off with some surfing, it’s hard to take a rest day when there’s so much fun stuff to do!
The next morning we headed back to climb the same routes as our first day here again, but after 3 routes we had to accept the fact that we *might* have overdone it yesterday and that some proper rest was in order. We left Punakaiki and drove further down the coast till we got to Greymouth, where we found an awesome campspot overlooking the beach and the pier. We even got some free entertainment as there were some stockcar races on, but it didn’t take long before this turned from interesting into annoying when it lasted till 8pm.. I always try and make the most of being parked up at a place with some trails so went for an easy trailrun followed by a swim in the ocean and a cold outdoor shower, makes for a great workout!
Since the weather was about to turn bad (oh, if only we had realised how bad! Cliffhanger for the next blog!), we decided to spend the last sunny day to cycle the West Coast Wilderness Trail. We had done a part of this trail five years ago and were keen to give it a go on our cyclocross bikes. We started from Kumara, from where the trail heads straight for the mountains which offered some awesome views. We were pleasantly surprised when we came to Trappers Rest, an area where trapper Paul lives in his housebus and offers cups of tea to people passing his land by bike, which turned out to be a nice break and a great way to find out more about the history of this area. When we got to Cowboy Paradise, 35km in, we treated ourselves to some hot chips because we had made it halfway (or so we thought).
Shortly after lunch, we swapped the trail for an awesome road and all of a sudden we were zooming down, going twice as fast as on our morning grind up. Before we knew it, we were in Hokitika, from where we had planned to hitchhike back to get the van. But it didn’t seem too far on the map and we were going great and surely it would be flat and the chips would give us enough energy to just continue to cycle back to the van, right? Well, we made it but there was a fair bit of swearing going on and our butts were very happy to see the van when we made it back to Kumara, after 97km of cycling. We celebrated with ice cream and beers and it didn’t take long before our memory of the day was so coloured that we considered it a great success. Another proper sufferfest!
sufferfest – noun (plural sufferfests)
- A workout that involves prolonged suffering on the part of all who participate.
- (by extension) An activity in which all articipants ache, agonize, ail, endure.