Labour Weekend this year was made up of mud, forest and exploring, on the mighty West Coast.
The Canterbury Recreational 4WD Club had organised a weekend of exploring the backcountry of the West Coast, which we didn't want to miss out on!
On Friday afternoon we finished work a bit early, hooked the Jimny on to the back of our motorhome and headed west, for Reefton and Greymouth.
This was the first to of the Jimny on the A-Frame, and it towed surprisingly well! If I didn't check the mirrors I wouldn't even know it was on there. On the steeper hills we were probably a little slower than normal, but not by much.
We arrived in Westport at 8.30 pm and found our site at the Westport Kiwi Holiday Park, what an awesome campground! Great facilities, well sheltered from the winds and it's cheap, win-win.
Day 1 - Big River Track, Reefton
On Saturday morning we jumped in the Jimny and headed back up the hill to Reefton, where we met the CR4WD crew. From there we took a short drive to the South and headed into some dense bush, on the Big River Mine track.
Twisting through the amazing beech forest, this awesome 25km track took us past many historic relics from the old mining days that originally put Reefton on the map. The track was bumpy and steep in places, but the forest and scenery were truly awesome. The track includes some basic stream crossings and some fairly rutted pieces of track, too.
It took about 3 hours for us to reach the mine at the top of the track where we stopped for lunch. There is only one way in and one way out of the Big River track, so after lunch, we turned around and headed back to the bottom.
The track is narrow, ideal for Jimny's. This became more challenging on the descent when we met 3 trucks who were coming up the track. We got past just fine in the wee Jimny, but some of the bigger trucks looked a little nervous, some even hit the bank on some of the tight corners.
Once we got down off the track we headed back to camp at Westport and got prepared for day two. An awesome day out, the Big River Track is certainly one I'll do again.
Day 2 - Denniston Plateau
After a 9.30 start in Westport, we headed for Denniston, an old mining town that was closed down when the mine shut down, now with a total population of zero. The mine itself is cool, but some of the tracks up on the plateau were spectacular.
We were amongst the clouds, so couldn't see the views, but it added to the adventure, it almost felt like we were on a different planet. The landscape was like a dessert, no trees, just lots of low, dense scrub.
Mostly driving mountain bike tracks, on a couple of occasions we reached dead ends where we'd have to turn around and weave our way back out. Some steep climbs and hairy descents, what a great day.
In the evening, us, Daniel and Norman in their Jeep and Martin in his kick ass Prado went beach hooning, what a blast! The Jimny didn't do so well in the deeper sand, the lack of power really showed when we slowed right down to first gear, but we didn't get stuck, so that's a win.
Day 3 - Westport to Christchurch
We hooked the Jimny back up to the motorhome and cruised home. Nothing exciting to report on this part of the trip, except that the Jimny towed perfectly, like it wasn't even there.
What a sweet set up!