Big River - WaiutaIntermediate
Submitted by Katie Smith
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Back country - remote
Point to Point (one way)
Undulating, small hills only
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This is a really nice point-to-point run. Both road ends are a bit out of the way, so if you can arrange a key swap that's the best plan, and it's also open to mountain bikes.
Start along Soldiers Road. This old 4WD road winds through beautiful beech forest, passing several old mine shafts. Initially it climbs gradually before a descent to a creek, then climbs more steadily again to break out into some more open manuka/pakihi vegetation. From here it descends gradually again to Big River. This is almost exactly the halfway point. Here there are several signboards with information about the area's mining history. There are a few old buildings and workings, then just up the hill above there is a DoC hut - Big River Hut - with nice views over the river flat.
The hut is a very short side trip from the track. There is also the option for a slightly longer side trip (approx 2km each way) to Big River Dam. Ignore signs to Inangahua (this track heads east across Big River) - instead continue to follow DoC signs to Waiuta. From Big River the route on becomes single track, again heading through mature beech forest. The boggier areas now have short boardwalks over them, but it can still be pretty wet underfoot. The track climbs up over a small bush saddle (the track's high point) then undulates gradually downwards before popping out onto gravel road just before Waiuta. This is a really interesting area to have a look around too if you still have the energy!
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Features of interest
Lots of old mine workings and building, particularly around Big River
Make Up of Run
Technical Single Track: 20%
Moderate Single Track: 40%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 40%
Just before you enter Reefton from the south (or if coming from the north just after you leave town and cross the bridge over the Inangahua) turn up Soldiers Road. This is initially a good gravel road, but does become a rougher four wheel drive road. The start point in this run requires a 4WD to get to it - without one add about 3-4km onto the run. If you have a 4WD park at a small DoC sign to Blake's Shaft - if not park further back where a sign states "4WD only from this point". The extra few km of road are still really scenic.
No public transport, adequate parking
Seam-sealed waterproof jacket, Beanie/thermal headwear, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Cellphone, Map.
Plenty of drinkable water from creeks and rivers along the way, or fill up at Big River Hut
Muddy most of the time
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