Truman Track emerges on a spectacular coastline with cliffs, caverns, a blowhole and a waterfall
PHOTO: Shellie Evans ©

Introduction

Walks here range from 15 minutes to 3 days. Many tracks pass through densely forested karst limestone areas, which are the essence of the park.

About this track

Description

Punakaiki is the centre for Paparoa National Park, 38,000 ha of varied landscapes from mountain tops to sea level.

The following tracks range from around 15 minutes to a couple of days. 

Tracks on this page:

Truman Track

Time: 15 mins
Distance:  700 m, one way
Track category: Walking track

Truman Track is a walk through unspoiled sub-tropical forest where podocarp and rata trees tower above thickets of vines and nikau palms. The track emerges on a spectacular coastline with cliffs, caverns, a blowhole and a waterfall which plummets straight onto a rock-strewn beach. A stairway provides access to the beach, which may be safely explored when the tide is out.

 

Access: From the main road, 3 km north of the visitor centre. 

Punakaiki Cavern

Time: Take as long as you like
Track category: Walking track

A wooden stairway gives access to 130 m of safe passages with a few stalactites and the odd glow worm. Plenty of fun for all ages, so long as a good torch (and preferably a spare) is carried.

Access: Signposted beside the main road 500 m north of the visitor centre.

 

Pororari River Track

Time: 1 hr
Distance:  3.5 km, one way
Track category: Walking track

This track follows a spectacular limestone gorge with two main features - a river with huge rocks in deep pools, and beautiful forest featuring subtle changes from sub-tropical to temperate.

A 15 minute gentle stroll from the car park brings you to a seat and a lookout, with spectacular views of the river gorge with its magnificent limestone cliffs. From this point on, the track narrows and the gradients become a little steeper as the track continues for another 2.5km until it meets the Inland Pack Track. Five minutes beyond this junction the track leads to the riverbed, an ideal place for a rest before retracing your steps back to the car park.

Access: From the carpark by the Pororari River bridge, one kilometre north of the Visitor Centre on SH6.

 

Punakaiki - Pororari Loop

Time: 3 hr
Distance:  11 km, loop
Track category: Walking track, Tramping track

A popular walking track combining the southern section of the Inland Pack Track with the Pororari River Track. It crosses the Punakaiki River via a footbridge, and then follows an easily graded climb through mature rain forest over the ridge dividing the two rivers. When the Pororari River Track junction is reached, it is worth carrying on along the Inland Pack Track for a short distance to the Pororari River, a perfect place for a rest and something to eat. Return to the junction and then follow the Pororari River Track down river to the car park on SH6. From there it is a 1km walk south along SH6. to the Visitor Centre.

Access: From the Visitor Centre follow SH6 south to Waikori Road, 200 m on the left after the Punakaiki River. (Note: The vehicle bridge on SH6 over the Punakaiki River has pedestrian access on the upstream side). Follow Waikori Road for 1km to the car park. The track starts 50 m further down the road on the left at the footbridge. Please leave the farm gate at the start of Waikori Road closed at all times.

Fox River Cave Walk

Time: 1 hr 15 min
Distance:  3.7 km, one way
Track category: Walking track

Caution: Sections of this track require river bed travel and depending on weather conditions, may involve river crossings. Parts of this track are steep and rocky, and may be muddy and slippery.

The area's oldest tourist attraction, this safe cave has a 200 m passage, beautifully decorated with calcite formations which have developed over thousands of years. Take plenty of light and respect the cave - no souveniring or writing on the wall please. There is another lower cave, but this is dangerous to enter due to falling rocks and sheer drops in the floor.

Access: Signposted from the main road just over the Fox River bridge, 12 km north of Punakaiki. When the main pack track meets a river ford, the Fox River Cave access carries on up the north bank.

 

Cave Creek Kotihotiho Walk

Time: 1 hr
Distance:  2 km, one way
Track category: Walking track

Caution: This road is prone to flooding during heavy rain.

From the gate at the end of Bullock Creek Road, follow the farm track to a T-junction  The road branching right from the junction leads beyond the Inland Pack Track turn-off, to a signpost indicating the Cave Creek Kotihotiho track. Across a couple of ridges, the track descends into a deeply incised gorge. The creek bed where the track ends is normally bouldery and dry. In normal conditions the stream emerges from underneath rocks in several places. However, during and after heavy rain, a torrent rages past the foot of the track, barring further progress. Please take care to avoid trampling the mosses and liverworts growing on rocks and banks. Do not enter the creek bed if it is raining as water levels can rise dramatically with very little warning.

Access: Begins at the end of Bullock Creek Road (a 6 km gravel road), which leaves the main road 2 km north of the visitor centre.

Ballroom Overhang Track

Time: 2 hr
Distance:  6 km, one way
Track category: Tramping track

Caution: Several river crossings - dangerous in flood.

Some of the park's finest limestone features can be seen in this area. The track follows the Fox River and continues up the gorge to a point where the river branches. The large limestone overhang, known as the Ballroom Overhang is about half an hour up the left or main branch of the river.

Ballroom Overhang designated camping site on Inland Pack Track
Ballroom Overhang

Access: The Inland Pack Track, sign posted by the main road bridge at Fox River, 12 km north of Punakaiki.

Tiropahi - Four Mile Track

Time: 4 hr
Distance:  13.8 km, return
Track category: Tramping track 

Caution: One river crossing - dangerous in flood.

A well-formed track leads up through the scenic Tiropahi Gorge to an open pakihi, with fine views of the Paparoa tops in clear weather. Along the way are several access points to the river bed with numerous deep swimming holes amidst massive water-worn limestone rocks. Near the top end are some traces of an old sawmill once served by a horse tramway which ran along the formation of today's walking track. Take care on slippery mudstone.

Access: The track is signposted from the main road, 20 km north of Punakaiki, a short distance before the Tiropahi bridge. 

Pororari River - Bullock Creek Road

Time: 5 - 6 hr
Distance:  15 km, loop
Track category: Walking track, Tramping track

A section of the Inland Pack Track through part of the Paparoa limestone syncline, which links the Pororari River Track with the scenic Bullock Creek Road. Care must be taken when the track crosses deep rifts, and no off-track exploration should be made, as there are hidden potholes up to 40 m deep. The mature forest supports many birds, including rare species such as kaka and kiwi. Towards the end of the walk, Bullock Creek Road emerges onto SH6. From here, it is another 1km south along the highway to reach the car park.

Access: From the Pororari River car park 1 km north of the Visitor Centre on SH6.

Bullock Creek - Fox River carpark

Time: 5 hr
Distance:  15.5 km, one way
Track category: Tramping track

Caution:  Numerous river and creek crossings - dangerous in flood.

Beyond the gate at the head of the Bullock Creek Road, a farm road branches left and crosses the creek just above its main submergence point. The road soon meets the Inland Pack Track which passes through wonderful limestone country before ending at Fossil Creek. Due to windfall from Cyclone Ita further upstream, extra care will be required when negotiating Fossil Creek, especially after high rainfall events. Stream bed travel leads to Dilemma Creek, which is crossed and re-crossed until it joins Fox River. here the track may be picked up again and followed out to the car park at the mouth of the Fox River, 12km north of Punakaiki.

Access: Begins at the top of Bullock Creek Road, which leaves the main road 2 km north of the visitors centre. An extra hour and a half is needed to walk up the 6 km road to the start of the track, if a ride can not be arranged.

Inland Pack Track

Time: 2 - 3 days
Distance:  25 km, one way
Track category: Tramping track

Caution:  Numerous river and creek crossings - dangerous in flood.

Built in 1867 during the gold-rush to avoid dangerous coastal travel, the track gives access to some of the finest features of Paparoa National Park. There are no huts along the way, but there is sheltered camping under the Ballroom Overhang, where there is a toilet. The track is best walked from the southern or Punakaiki end, as this makes creek bed navigation at the northern (or Fox River) end much simpler.

Access: Via Waikori Road, 800 m south of the Visitor Centre. An alternative start is via the Pororari River track car park, 1 km north of the visitor centre.

Getting there

Punakaiki is located on SH6, between Westport and Greymouth. These walks can all be accessed from SH6. Call into the DOC visitor centre at Punakaiki to find out more about the Punakaiki area.

Know before you go

Safety is your responsibility.

Before you go into the outdoors, tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned. To do this, use the New Zealand Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website. It is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Contacts

Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 731 1895
Address:   4294 Coast Road
Punakaiki
RD 1
Runanga 7873
Email:   paparoavc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details
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