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In early November 2023 I joined some old time mates on an annual adventure organised every year by the one and only Shane Fairmaid.

Starve, Shane, Warwick, Gnome, Geoff, Edwin, me and Moff at the start of what was going to be a wet but enjoyable day!

The plan was to ride 4 awesome West Coast trails over 4 days. We would start with 100km odd on the Wilderness Trail from Hokitika to Greymouth on the first day followed by the Paparoa Trail, the Old Ghost Road Trail and finally the Heaphy Track.


I was more than a little worried about being able to complete 4 days of riding let alone holding everyone else up so I took a shop demo Scott Lumen full susp e-bike along with my trusty Scott Spark RC full susp bike away with me to our first stop in Hokitika. Warwick Jones drove me and my two bikes. 

The plan was to use my Spark RC on the first relatively flat day on the Wilderness Trail and then to assess after that whether I was capable of carrying on with this bike or whether I would need some battery powered assistance with the Lumen.  

Its worth noting here that I had my son Benji along with a few others saying that theres no way that I would be able to ride a light weight e bike (250 watt / hr assistance along with a 250 watt battery) all the way along either the Paparoa or Old Ghost trails.  

I am happy to report that boy, were they all so wrong! 

For our first day the West Coast really turned it on with rain the whole ride. It actually made for a beautiful ride through what was a stunning mainly single tracks and 4 wheel drive gravel tracks through native bush. Apart from a quick snack stop at the Cowboy Junction settlement (talk about a god forsaken outpost in the middle of nowhere!) under a veranda we rode pretty much the whole way without stopping.  

After a quick beer (or two!) and some more snacks on Greymouth we all drove up to Punakaiki to stay at the local camping ground that evening (with a really good meal and lots of laughs at the Punakaiki pub). 

Geoff on the Paparoa Trail

Early the next morning on a beautiful blue sky day half of the boys (and me) drove to the trail start (Smoke-Ho Carpark up an incredible access road) at the Blackball end of the Paparoa Trail and the other half rode in the other way from the camping ground with the intention being to give them our car keys along the way.  

I had decided to ride the Lumen on this trail as there was a lot of technical climbing early on in particular and I didnt want to hold Shane or Geoff up. The ride up to the first hut was fairly technical especially with the heavy rain the day before. There was a lot of water on the trail and lots of greasy rocks and tree roots but the Lumen handled the ride really well. It weighs around 15kg with most of the weight down low and is based on a Spark geometry. I ended up riding it in eco for a little while when my heart rate would get too high and then turn the motor off again when I had recovered. Once we were past the first hut I rode most of the way without power apart from a couple of steep pinches.  

Me on one of the incredible bridges


From the second hut I pretty much rode without power on what was one of the best (if not the best!) downhill I have ever ridden and the Lumen geometry was just perfect. It made for an exhilarating ride all up. Jeff, Shane, me (and Gnome who rode up from Punakaiki to the Moonlight Tops hut and then cam e back with us) made it to the end at Punakaiki in around 6.5 hrs all up. Shayne and Jeff on normal MTBs were superb on this day and kept me going when I was starting to struggle near the end. By the way the Lumen crossed the finished line with just on 30% battery left take that Benji! 

 We gave the car keys to Starve (Steve H), Edwin, Moff (Steve M) and Warwick riding the other way just after the second hut and I have to say that they all looked a little tired even through they were definitely the fitter group. Its definitely the best way to ride the Paparoa as we did from Blackball!.  

The whitebait fritters out of a caravan at the Punakaiki camping ground that night were as good as it gets. Highly recommended! 


Shane, Geoff and me in probably the best location for a selfie that you could think of - up on the top of the Paparoa Trail!


Early the next morning we left for Lyell in two vehicles to ride the Old Ghost Road. I again used the Lumen for this ride and was able to ride most of the way to the Old Ghost Road hut without power except for a few steep pinches as the overall gradient was a little easier (and definitely smoother) than the Paparoa. After a snack at the Old Ghost hut Gnome (Andy MacBeth), Warrick, Shane and I carried on. The next part of the track down from the hut was better than when I first rode it (just after the track opened) but the second part above the 152 steps was washed out and generally in very poor condition. It was good to see that the Track custodians are building an alternative route around this whole section including the steps.  

Shane and me at Heaven's Door on the Old Ghost


I was struggling in parts along from the steps through the valley floor to the Stern Valley hut (cumulative tiredness!) and rode quite a bit of this section in eco mode. At the hut it turned out that I had a slow rear leak so after pumping the tyre up a couple of times through the Boneyard section I ended up having to change the tube. Luckily the guys had waited for me at the top of the Boneyard so we all rode together from there to Specimen Point Hut and then down the Canyon trail along the river to the Trail end at Seddonville.

Just before the Goat Creek hut the fittest of the whole team Edwin managed to badly hit his quadricep with his handlebar and after initially only being able to walk he rode slowly out the rest of the way with Gnome, Warwick, Shane and myselfsafety in numbers with darkness approaching and 8.5 hrs of riding time behind us! Needless to say my Lumen had 20% battery left at the end Benji Knight? What were you saying about no way could that bike ride the old Ghost on one charge!? 

Shane just before the steps on the Old Ghost


After finishing the Old Ghost we then headed for the Last Resort Hotel in Karamea arriving there well after the restaurant had shut but luckily the proprietors had prepared food for us that we were to heat up and eat. Thanks too to Bob Foster for sorting out our accomodation and food here late in the evening after the owners werent too happy with us noise wise (naturally after such a long day the boys were keen to have a beer and chat over the day done!). Bob was a real champion on this trip. He didnt end up riding after picking up Covid before we started but he still came along to help with driving even through he was definitely very ill for a few days. After that it was to bed and to sleep for an 8am Helicopter ride to the Collingwood start on the Heaphy Track.  

The morning dawned clear and fine in Karamea but unfortunately the helicopters werent able to fly as there was low cloud over where were to land.  

So long story short, Shane, Warwick, Geoff and myself set off on our bikes to ride on the road back to Charleston. While youd think that this would be fairly easy compared to the off road trail rides of the last few days there are still a couple of really good hills on the way. Needless to say I rode the Lumen and rode quite a bit of the ride in Eco thanks to the boys riding so well! 

All up the hills combined with the pace and intermittent rain made for another solid day. 

We had hoped to ride the part of the Kawatiri Coastal trail that was open but after stopping for lunch around the Stockton Mine area and talking with a local cockie we found out the trail was washed out at the southern end. Apparently 2 guys were working on the trail with a 14 tonne digger and a truck and while they were on their lunch break a huge landslide took out the digger and the truck with no trace remaining. These guys were very lucky!  

Gnome, Warwick, Edwin, John and Geoff at the finish of our roadie at Charlston

So we rode on to Charleston for an 80 km road ride to finish what had been an amazing 4 days of West Coast adventuring. Gnome and Edwin picked us up there. Edwin and Geoff headed back to Christchurch while Warwick drove Gnome and myself back to Queenstown (with a stop at the Haast pub for a feed of whitebait and venison burgers on the way! Bob and Moff meanwhile had bailed for Christchurch at the start of the day, not a silly call either after some big days and with Bob still recovering from his illness. 

All up an amazing adventure and roll I for one cant wait for November 24 where rumour has it we may be heading to Tasmania! 

  • The organiser: Shane Fairmaid
  • The partecipants: Shane Fairmaid, Bob Foster, Steve Moffat (Moff), Steve Harvey (Starve), Andy McBeth (Gnome), Geoff Hay, Edwin Jensen, Warwick Jones and John Knight
  • Bikes that I used: Scott Lumen 910 Large and Scott RC L rge mountain bikes.

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