Last day of the West Coast Wilderness, it began with breakfast at the Hotel and packing the overnight bag (which was later collected by the shuttle).
It was a beautiful morning, and we only have a short ride today. Had to meet the Cycle Journeys shuttle in Greymouth, only ~40km away, by a café at about 1pm.
As had some extra time I backtracked a few kilometres, a couple more than anticipated to be honest, to check out the local cemetery. Had read some of the settler stories and thought might be interesting to see some of the history.
I didn't anticipate how large it would be, spent some time looking around but didn't have much luck finding the ones I was looking for.
Passed back through Kumara before joining the off-road trail.
Back on the trail
Liked this tribute to the history of communication along the trail, and a bit further along, a big bike dwarfs my little one.
The trail is flat and through farmland or regenerating bush until you get to this bridge. I stopped here to take a photo and was entertained by several pairs of Tui in the trees beside the trail. They ended up being heard around the world via Walk the Pod.
Someone has chalked a Ukraine flag on the wall of the railway bridge today and I’m reminded of:“To learn something new, take the path that you took yesterday.” - John Burroughsand a report from the South Island of NZ
From the flat trail, a massive gully exposes views out to the Taramakau River beyond.
Another perfect day, hard to believe this is the 'wet' West Coast where rainfall is measured in metres.
Last bit of trail before it joins the highway North.
Taramakau River Bridge
This new bridge replaced an iconic single deck combined rail and road bridge. Although less interesting the separate new rail and road bridges are a lot safer.
While taking this photo of the Taramakau River noticed an odd selfie opportunity in the shadows.
That's me sitting on the bike...
This was dealing with a real West Coast bridge hazard. River shingle builds up turning bridges into dams, needs to be cleared to allow the flooding rivers to run free.
I carried on towards Greymouth, to meet the Shuttle, but this sign triggered thoughts of an alternative plan for the afternoon.
The trail runs between the highway and endless ocean beach all the way to Greymouth.
Looking South, mountains visible far in the distance on such a clear day.
Greymouth has a little airport, but commercial flights mean a drive to the larger one at Hokitika.
The Grey River signals you are closing in on the end of the ride.
The Grey River mouth bar is a challenge to shipping, something common on the coast.
Looking South from the Grey River mouth.
Greymouth, trail end
The trail follows the river up to Greymouth town centre.
The trail runs along the stop bank, the clocktower was the finish of our ride as the rendezvous was at a nearby café.
We celebrated the finish with lunch at Sevenpenny. The name relates to a local consumer boycott in 1947. Greymouth hotels tried to raise the price of beer from six to seven pennies. The resulting turmoil resulted in a boycott which became a strike causing the government to intervene to ward off a nationwide coal shortage!
Times have changed, had a nice lunch and drink (cider and, later, iced coffee) but it was a bit more than seven pence!
The after ride
The early finish today is designed to suit those who have to return to the depot and move on to another destination. I had neither of those pressures, had another night in Hokitika booked, so decide to forgo the shuttle and ride back. Cycle Journeys were really accommodating, offered to drop my overnight bag where I was staying so that made it easy.
Did a loop around Greymouth central before heading off, both to check out the sights and get the legs working after the lengthy lunch break!
It's rare to see a local paper, first edition 1866, still printed in a small town these days. I know my Dad had worked on machines here (he was a print engineer) but suspect the one visible was more modern than those he fixed.
Happened to catch the Tranz-Alpine Train heading out of town. This tourist train across the Southern Alps is a great way to get from Christchurch to Greymouth. I did the leg from Arthurs Pass back to Christchurch years ago and it was great.
On the train from Arthurs Pass, West Coast Escape Cycle Tour South Island 2004
Passed Cycle Journeys' soon to open Greymouth Depot. Latest expansion of Geoff and Shelley's 'retirement project' which now has over 600 bikes on trails across the South Island.
A good look at the sort of boat you need to tackle the Grey River mouth and Tasman Sea beyond...
Greymouth to Shanty Town
First part of the ride was retracing my wheeltracks, but then headed inland to Shantytown. I first learned of this place as a kid when saw photos of family friends, 'the Braynes', visit there some time in the mid-1970s.
It's not far off the main highway, even on a bike, and well worth the diversion. It's a recreation of a 19th century colonial town run by the 'West Coast Historical and Mechanical Society'.
A modern café sits alongside recreations, with genuine artifacts, of colonial main street town businesses.
A short bush railway takes you to an, optional, gold panning experience or just for a there & back ride.
The local Weka meet every train.
The Hospital displayed a variety of horrors...
I think the dental nurse's drill at my (1970s) Primary School was slightly more modern than this, but not much.
An 'iron lung' from the days before the Polio vaccine changed the world.
It was pretty quiet, but these photos are deserted as were taken just as another train trip departed.
Loved the local garage recreation.
On the wall, no escaping Fiat even this far from Italy. This advert for the new Fiat highlighted their aviation heritage, something Saab later copied! 'Māoriland' was a colonial, turn of the century, name for New Zealand, Aotearoa. Today 63-69 Kent Terrace, Wellington, is a Honda dealer.
My bike was safe in the shade of the carpark, time to head off to Hokitika.
Shanty Town to Hokitika
It was back on the bike trail to Kumara Junction, then on the highway from there.
The road has a bit of verge and late afternoon traffic was light so not a problem.
No hills on this ride, views out to sea were better than concentrating on the flat straight road ahead!
Across the Arahura River, the bridge has a cycle path!
Alone for the night in Hokitika
I was back at Teichelmann's Bed & Breakfast for the night but was totally alone. Hosts Francis and Brian had been called away for family reasons. I would have been happy to make other arrangements, but they insisted I stay and had arranged access for the night. It was incredibly kind and trusting of them.
I spent the early evening cleaning (myself and the bike!) and packing the car, ready for tomorrow's drive North.
"My" living room for the evening. Spent the evening reading about the Doctor. Ebenezer Teichelmann was a remarkable man, both professionally and as an explorer & photographer. Tales of him hauling a glass plate camera all over the West Coast, seemingly as concerned about the survival of his precious photographic plates as himself!
Lovely accommodation and trip logistics were eased by being able to leave luggage here the nights between stays. If you are in the area, I totally recommend a stay here.
I shouted myself a proper dinner at "Stumpers Bar & Café" to conclude this leg. Took the long way home to walk it off (not really) and enjoy one last stunning Hokitika sunset. A great finish to a lovely ride.
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