New Zealand is well known for its Great Walks but, for the first time in 25 years, the Department of Conservation is set to introduce a newbie to the fold. If you ask us the Paparoa Track sounds like an absolute cracker — read on and start planning your trip!
The Paparoa Track
Joining the illustrious company of Lake Waikaremoana, The Routeburn Track, and The Milford Track, the Paparoa Track will be the first new Great Walk to open in 25 years — it will also be the first that caters to both mountain bikers and hikers alike. 45km of flowing and challenging trails will connect the towns of Punakaiki and Blackball along the South Island’s West Coast, bringing a much-needed tourism boost to the area.
Traversing the stunning Paparoa Range, you’ll experience wide views of the Tasman Sea and the Southern Alps, navigate lush rainforests and alpine scrub, and spend your nights in two new alpine huts that are currently under construction. Moonlight Tops Hut will offer impressive views of the Punakaiki River and the Paparoa National Park, while the ridgeline track to Pororari Hut offers views of the oddly shaped rock formation, the Lone Hand.
The Pike29 Memorial Track
In addition to a mix of new and old trails on the Paparoa Track, the trail connects with 10km of newly built track that winds down to the site of the Pike River Mine. Named the Pike29 Memorial Track in memory of the miners that lost their lives in the 2010 explosions, there are further plans to erect a memorial and interpretation centre at the site, telling the story and providing a spot for quiet reflection.
As if you needed another reason to head to cross the ditch! Add the Paparoa Track to your bucket list — you’ve got a year to start planning so there’s no excuse!
At time of writing, the track is due to open in October 2019, but you’ll probably want to keep tabs on the opening date by checking the DOC’s website.
While you’re waiting, check out some more NZ hikes