Date: 14 March 2017
The Paparoa Track is to be New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk. It was chosen by the families of the Pike River men as a memorial that will bring lasting benefit to the West Coast region.
The Government has approved the new Great Walk and information centre put forward by the families.
A journey through awe-inspiring landscapes
The new 55 km Great Walk will be amazing journey by foot or mountain bike through diverse awe-inspiring environments.
The Paparoa Track will cross the Paparoa Ranges between Blackball and Punakaiki. The Pike29 Memorial Track will connect the Paparoa Track with the Pike River Mine site.
It will be a 2–3 day walk or an advanced-level 1–2 day mountain bike ride. The track will be open all year for mountain biking. Two new high standard 20-bunk huts will be built – the Moonlight Tops Hut and the Pororari Hut above the junction with Tindale Creek.
The new Great Walk begins at its Blackball end on the existing Croesus Track, an old miners’ track with remnants of the area’s gold mining history. A short way off the main track at Garden Gully, an old quartz crushing battery can be seen and a miners’ hut reveals what life was like for the miners.
The track route goes through rich beech and podocarp forest and over open tops of alpine scrub and tussock.
It will provide breathtaking views to the Southern Alps/Kā Tiritiri o te Moana and over the Tasman Sea and passes towering escarpments alongside the Pike basin before descending to the west off the Paparoa Range.
Nearing Punakaiki, the track passes through beech forest interspersed with northern rātā, dramatic limestone terrain including the striking Pororari River Gorge, and coastal forest with glades of nīkau palms.
The track will traverse areas inhabited by remnant populations of threatened species including roroa/great spotted kiwi, kea, kākā, whio/blue duck, mātā/fernbird and koekoeā/long-tailed cuckoo. The park is also home to the Paparoa Range alpine snail (Powelliphanta gagei).
Construction of the new Great Walk will start in 2017 and it is aimed for it to be complete by April 2019.
A new West Coast tourism opportunity
New Zealand’s Great Walks are premier tracks that draw thousands of international and New Zealand visitors.
The Paparoa Track provides a new recreation and economic opportunity for the West Coast. The Great Walk will attract international and domestic tourists wanting to experience the stunning and unique landscapes accessed by the track.
As a new mountain bike track it adds to a growing number of outstanding West Coast cycle trails that increasingly make the region a must-do mountain biking destination.
Remembering the Pike 29
At the families' wishes, the Pike River Mine site and surrounding area has become part of Paparoa National Park.
The men will be remembered through an information centre to be developed at the Pike River Mine amenities area, where displays and memorabilia will tell the story of the mine and disaster. The mine portal will be a place for quiet reflection of the 29 lives lost in the mine tragedy.