Guest blog by Libby Hurley
Cyclists! We have yet another absolute playground right at our doorstep! The St James trail is 64km of everything from easy to advanced track, surrounded by beautiful mountains, showcasing views that make you stop and realise how lucky we are in NZ.
The St James trail begins at Maling Pass car park, 25km up the gravel road from the St James Homestead car park. If you only have one car you can park at the Homestead and ride to Maling Pass car park, but if you’ve got two cars there’s no reason why you couldn’t shuttle up and collect the second car at the end of the day. From Maling Pass car park there it is a gradual climb all the way to the top of Maling Pass, it’s not steep just a good warm up. The top of Malings is the highest point of the day and the view is superb! Once you’ve taken in the scenery the descent to the Waiau River is massive and FUN! At the bottom of the hill the 4wd track ends, and from here the real trail starts!
For most of the ride you follow the river, the track is the perfect mix of undulating, rocky, grassy, steep, flat trail. You get to cross a couple of bridges positioned in the perfect spots for a break, and there are three huts staggered along the track.
Scotties Hut is the last hut you come to before Peter’s Pass. Take a deep breath before Peter’s because it’s a slog. It’s steep, loose and plonked right near the end of the ride just to put you in your place before getting back to the Homestead. In saying that, you can always get off and push. It might take longer but the view is the same at the top!
Overall, I recommend it A++++. Do it, you won’t regret it! We completed the full loop including the 25km gravel road in a day, it was long but doable. They recommend 1-2 days, just depends if you want to accept the challenge or take it super easy and camp out for night. Enjoy!!!
LINKS: http://nzcycletrail.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/16_St_James_Trail.pdf - map http://nzcycletrail.com/trails/st-james-trail/ - St James Page