Tales from the Trail
Trail Tales With Barry Gordon From Westreef

It’s fast becoming clear to see the Kawatiri Coastal Trail is on track to become one of the West Coast’s most loved cycling and walking trails. Its construction opening up a whole new journey along the coastline, where locals will enjoy learning about places that have previously been hard to find or inaccessible.

Whilst the onslaught of Covid-19 brought inevitable delays, the project team worked tirelessly to get construction tender documents out, obtain resource consents and an archaeological authority, and finalise Landowner Access Agreements. The construction contract was awarded to Westreef, with construction commencing in June 2020.

Evident at every step of the build is not just the extensive knowledge and skill of the Westreef Team, but also their passion and commitment to building the very best Trail. We spoke to Barry Gordon who has been involved since the first sod was turned. Whilst the Trail Trust were sad to see Barry leave to focus on projects of his own, they will be forever grateful for his valuable contribution.

Photo: Barry Gordon – former Westreef Team member, Omau Section

How long have you worked with Westreef?

Westreef has employed me four times over the last 20 years, and so probably 10 years all up. That’s involved roading, servicing, water and sewage, and other projects around town. I started building trails on The Old Ghost Road when I returned to Westport following the Christchurch earthquakes. I also worked on the Paparoa Track for two years. It’s been an awesome job, and a real team effort.

What was involved in your day to day on the Kawatiri Coastal Trail?

I was part of the team that began the Trail construction. We tend to break the work up into the various duties. Nigel operates the digger, and I was there in behind with all the materials. I was also the daily organiser, and would routinely grease and check the machines, and grab everything necessary for arrival on site.

What have you enjoyed most about the project?

It would have to be learning more about my immediate surroundings. I’ve lived in Westport for 20 years, but due to my work I’ve known more backcountry than what we have in our town. I didn’t realise the Māori settlement is one of the most important in New Zealand. I would never have known how important this site is, nor the Pūwaha wetlands.

Photo credit: Nomad Audio & Video – Pūwaha Wetlands

Have you enjoyed the Trail on foot or by bike?

I’ve walked the trail extensively, but I don’t own a push bike. At the moment I walk it once a week for recreation.

Knowing where the Trail traverses, which Section will be a favourite and why?

It’s hard to choose a favourite, as each has its own natural beauty. You can’t beat the native forest, or the open country with its views. It’s actually not something I had thought about. I always find if you look too far ahead, you forget what’s in front of you. I would only look at it when I’m breaking the earth. It’s about keeping an eye to where you’re going, but concentrating on where you’re at.

What are you looking forward to once the Trail is complete?

I can’t wait to walk it all in one go! If you left at the right time, you could knock it off in a day. If I get tired, there’s always someone to pick me up. The Trail is a real asset for Buller, and it’s great that it’s aimed at New Zealand families. Our kids can get to know the area, and maybe return when they have kids of their own.

What’s next for you now you’re no longer working with Westreef?

I’m having a bit of a break from work to focus on some of my own projects. Following Lockdown I decided it’s better to look at quality of life, rather than keeping your head down. I’m keen to get my teeth into growing my veggie gardens and native plants. I also have some land with a shed, which I wouldn’t mind turning into a house for my daughter.

Photo: Patrick Reedy & Barry Gordon – Carters Beach, Kawau Section during construction

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