Walkers on Paparoa Track
Time: 3 days walking, 2 days mountain biking (no e-bikes)
Distance: 55 km walking, 56. 2 km mountain biking (no-e-bikes)
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Pororari River Gorge
There are three Great Walk huts on the Paparoa Track: Ces Clarke Hut (16 bunks), Moonlight Tops Hut (20 bunks) and Pororari Hut (20 Hut). Huts have bunks, mattresses, heating, gas cooktops, toilets, and a water supply. A DOC ranger may be present. The huts do not provide food, cooking utensils or showers. Backcountry Hut Passes can be used at Ces Clark Hut but not at Moonlight Tops or Pororari huts.
There are no campsites on the track.
You'll need accommodation the night before your walk - camping at Smoke-ho car park is not permitted.
Fees are charged per person, per night to stay in huts on the Paparoa Track. There are no fees to complete a day walk/ride on the track or for entry into Paparoa National Park.
Backcountry Hut Passes can be used as payment for Ces Clark Hut, however you'll need to book online, then claim a refund.
To claim a refund, email firstname.lastname@example.org with your booking reference and a scanned copy of your Backcountry Hut Pass.
All three huts must be booked in advance.
Bookings are open to 10 May 2020.
Time: 4–5 hr
Distance: 10.3 km
The track begins at Smoke-ho car park and follows Blackball Creek. It winds through mixed podocarp and beech forest, with occasional views of the creek. Keep an eye out for the rare blue duck/whio.
The track then zigzags up the ridge between the Blackball Creek and Roaring Meg Creek catchments, then climbs more steeply into subalpine forest. On a fine day you'll be rewarded views of Lake Brunner and the Main Divide down to Aoraki/Mount Cook.
Ces Clark Hut is on the edge of the bushline, set among low alpine scrub and with spectacular views.
Side trip: Garden Gully
Time: 45 min return
Take a side trip along this historic track to see relics of the gold-mining days.
Turn off the Paparoa Track at Garden Gully junction. Historic Garden Gully Hut, a miner’s hut dating from the 1930s, is just a few minutes down the track, but is not recommended for accommodation.
After crossing a suspension bridge, the track forks. To the left is a marked route up the creek to a century-old quartz crushing battery (5 minutes walking). To the right, the track climbs to the mouth of the collapsed Garden Gully Mine (15 minutes walking).
Time: 3 hr
Distance: 9.7 km
Beyond Ces Clark Hut you pass through alpine scrub and tussock with expansive views of Grey River/Māwheranui and Tasman Sea.
The track follows the ridge of the main Paparoa Range through open alpine vegetation above the Roaring Meg and Moonlight Creek catchments, with views of Aoraki/Mt Cook on a clear day.
Moonlight Tops Hut has panoramic views across the Punakaiki River headwaters around to the escarpment, Pike Stream and Paparoa National Park.
Side trip: Croesus Knob
Time: 1 hr 10 min return
The turn-off to Croesus Knob is a 30-minute walk beyond Ces Clark Hut. From the main Paparoa Track, a rough route climbs to the top of Croesus Knob (1204 m), where there are spectacular views down to Aoraki Mount Cook and out to Tasman Sea.
This route is not suitable for mountain bikes and is not maintained to the same standard as the main Paparoa Track.
Time: 5–7 hr
Distance: 19.1 km
Closed until 22 December 2019.
Time: 4–5 hr
Distance: 16 km to Pororari River car park, 17.1 km to Waikori Road carpark
The track descends into the upper Pororari River valley and follows the river. In some places it follows an old track which was built c1912–1914 to establish a settlement in the valley. The track sidles along a spectacular gorge and descends through beech forest interspersed with northern rātā.
At the junction of the Inland Pack Track and the Paparoa Track, hikers and mountain bikers diverge. Walkers take the Pororari River Track through the Pororari River Gorge; mountain bikers follow the Inland Pack Track over a low saddle into the Punakaiki River valley to Waikori Road car park. Both tracks pass through lush rainforest with glades of nikau palms.
Time: 2–3 hr
Distance: 10.3 km
Time: 1 hr 30 min – 2 hr 30 min
Distance: 9.7 km
Time: 4–5 hr
Distance: 19.1 km
Closed till 22 December 2019.
Time: 2 hr 30 min – 3 hr 30 min
Distance: 17. 1 km
Paparoa Track is a well-formed track with numerous swing and suspension bridges. The track is Advanced: Grade 4 with a mixture of long, steep climbs, narrow track, poor traction and obstacles that are difficult to avoid or jump over. It's a particularly tough ride to Ces Clark Hut. The track is generally exposed at the outside edge. Most riders will find some sections easier to walk.
Plan to spend one night on the track.
This is a shared-use track. Follow the mountain bikers code: respect others, respect the rules, respect the track.
Mountain bikers and walkers share Paparoa Track
The nearest towns are Blackball, Greymouth and Punakaiki.
The track can be accessed by road at:
Several operators provide shuttle services to/from Paparoa Track. Find transport around the coast (West Coast Tourism). We recommend leaving your car at your accommodation - Smoke-ho car park is small and for day use only.
DOC works in partnership with the Paparoa Wildlife Trust (external site) in the south-east ranges bordering the Paparoa National Park. Through this partnership, the Paparoa Wildlife Trust maintains a trapping network that effectively controls between 10,000 and 15,000 hectares of land. This programme, in conjunction with the 12.5-hectare pest-proof kiwi crèche on the Atarau plains and the Paparoa great spotted kiwi/roroa recovery project, has delivered significant gains for kiwi.
The Ngāti Waewae hapū (sub-tribe) of Ngāi Tahu are the kaitiaki of Paparoa National Park, guardians of the area’s native species and ecosystems. This kaitiaki responsibility is passed down the generations and draws on mātauranga (traditional knowledge) to care for the land, rivers and species.
In the 1860s, the discovery of gold on the West Coast sparked a gold rush and a sudden influx of European settlement. Between 1881 and 1899, the Croesus Track was constructed to allow better access to mines in upper Blackball Creek. The first part of the Paparoa Track follows this route. You can see the remnants of the gold-mining days by taking a side trip to Garden Gully.
The section of track between Pororari Hut and Punakaiki also follows historical routes.
The stretch between Waikori Road car park and the Pororari River follows the 1867 Inland Pack Track, once one of the main access routes between Greymouth and Westport. The track up the Pororari River was originally built to open up the area for farming. Few farms were formed and the route languished, but it was revitalised in the 1950s for a short-lived uranium-mining venture.
On 19 November 2010, 29 men perished in an underground explosion at the Pike River Mine. Created in partnership with the families of those 29 men, the Department of Conservation and Ngāti Waewae, the Paparoa Track is a memorial to the men and a thank you to New Zealanders for their support of the Pike River families.
Know the Outdoor Safety Code - 5 simple rules to help you #makeithome.
The track is well marked but if you become lost you should stop, find shelter and stay calm. Put on extra clothing to keep warm and assist rescuers should you hear them searching for you.
There is no cellphone coverage on most of the Paparoa Track.
Weather in Paparoa National Park is changeable with annual rainfall averaging around 6,000 mm (235 inches). Heavy rain, snow, ice, fog and strong winds are possible at all times of the year, especially on the exposed sections of the track.
You must be well equipped and prepared for all weather conditions and carry warm and waterproof clothing. If the weather becomes severe, stay put in a hut or turn back until conditions improve.
If you are hiking or biking the track in winter, check for snow and ice conditions before you leave and allow extra time. If in doubt, consider changing your trip to another day.
During cold, wet and windy conditions, hypothermia (drop in core body temperature) can become a serious problem. From initial stages to unconsciousness can take as little as 30 minutes.
This can be serious and is usually caused by physical activity in a hot environment and not drinking enough water.
Some sections of track in the Pororari Valley may become impassable during times of very heavy rainfall. There is also a risk of landslides. There is danger of treefall in extreme wind events. Do not attempt to travel between Pororari Hut and the carparks in Punakaiki if these conditions occur. Take shelter in Pororari Hut and wait until conditions improve.
The section to Ces Clark Hut is a tough mountain bike ride as it's rough and narrow in places. Make sure you have the skills, fitness and time to tackle it.
New Zealand’s native tree nettle, Ongaonga, may be seen along the Paparoa Track in the Pororari Valley. It's sting is painful - don't touch its leaves.
Tell someone you trust your plans and when they should hear from you next. Include the national/international emergency service numbers: 111-Police for points of contact in New Zealand, +64-4-381-2000 for international. Find more information at www.adventuresmart.org.nz.
The Pike29 Memorial Track is under construction until at least December 2020 - it can’t be used until it opens. An opening date will be confirmed closer to the time.