Walkers on Paparoa Track

Image: ©


Opening on 1 December 2019, Paparoa Track crosses the Paparoa Range. It takes you through alpine tops, limestone karst landscapes and thriving rainforests, and provides breath-taking views.


Bookings are open to 30 June 2020.


Track overview

55 km one way

Walking and tramping

3 days one way Intermediate: Great Walk/Easier tramping track

Mountain biking

2 days one way Advanced: Grade 4

Dog access

No dogs


Paparoa Track brochure (PDF, 4,1,21K) - includes map and profile

About this track

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)


  • Explore the spectacular Pororari River Gorge with dramatic limestone cliffs, beech forest and glades of subtropical nīkau palms.
  • Sit back and enjoy in incredible sunsets over the Tasman Sea from the Moonlight Tops Hut.
  • Follow in the footsteps of gold miners on the historic Croesus Track. Take a side trip to Garden Gully to see gold-mining remains.
  • Enjoy the stunning views. You’ll spot the Lone Hand rock formation on the way to Pororari Hut.

Watch video | Paparoa Track news and updates

Pororari River Gorge

Places to stay

There are three Great Walk huts on the Paparoa Track. Most walkers stay at Moonlight Tops Hut (20 bunks) and Pororari Hut (20 bunks), for the standard 2-night, 3-day journey. For the alternative 3-night, 4-day journey, walkers will also stay at Ces Clark Hut (16 bunks). There are no campsites.

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.

Fees and bookings

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.

Book Paparoa Track online.

  • Adult (18+ years): $45 per night
  • Child (17 years and under): free but booking still required

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 paparoavc@doc.govt.nz 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 30 June 2020.

Track description

Smoke-ho car park to Moonlight Tops Hut

Time: 7–8 hr
Distance: 20 km 

Beginning on the historic Croesus Track, with remnants of the area’s gold mining history, the track ascends through beech and podocarp forest before reaching Ces Clark Hut. Beyond the hut you pass through alpine scrub and tussock, and you will be rewarded with expansive views of Grey River/Māwheranui to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west. Moonlight Tops Hut provides spectacular views across the Punakaiki River headwaters to the Pike Stream escarpment and north across the Paparoa National Park.

Moonlight Tops Hut to Pororari Hut

Time: 5–7 hr
Distance: 19.1 km

Open tops give way to alpine forest stunted by the harsh environment. The track winds along the top of the escarpment, with steep cliffs and stunning views. About half-way to Pororari Hut, you descend from the escarpment through ancient podocarp forest. The track then follows the ridge above Tindale Creek to Pororari Hut. Keep an eye out for the Lone Hand, a gnarled outcrop of rock on the north side of the Pororari River.

Pororari Hut to Pororari River car park

Time: 4–5 hr
Distance: 16 km

The track descends and follows the upper Pororari River valley, until it joins an old track built to establish settlement in the upper valley. The track sidles along a spectacular gorge and descends through beech forest interspersed with northern rātā. At the junction with the historic Inland Pack Track, hikers and mountain bikers diverge: hikers follow the track beside the Pororari River through the lower gorge; mountain bikers must exit into the Punakaiki River valley, ending at Waikori Road car park. Both pass through lush rainforest with glades of nīkau palms.

Mountain biking

Smoke-ho car park to Moonlight Tops Hut

Time: 3 hr 30 min – 5 hr 30 min
Distance: 20 km

Moonlight Tops Hut to Waikori Road car park

Time: 6 hr 30 min – 8 hr 30 min
Distance: 36.2 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.

  • E-bikes are not allowed. E-bikes are prohibited under the Paparoa National Park Management Plan. These were considered for Paparoa Track when the plan was reviewed in 2016, but were decided against until we understand how the track will handle standard mountain bike traffic. This rule will be reviewed in 3-5 years following a full review of the use of e-bikes on public conservation land.
  • Riding at night is not allowed.

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

Getting there

The nearest towns are Blackball, Greymouth and Punakaiki.

The track can be accessed by road at:

  • Smoke-ho car park at the end of Blackball Road, 8 km north of Blackball 
  • Pororari River Track carpark on SH 6, 1.2 km north of Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki
  • Waikori Road carpark on SH 6, 2.4 km south of Pancake Rocks at Punakaiki

Several operators provide shuttle services to/from Paparoa Track. Find transport around the coast (West Coast Tourism).

Nature and conservation

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.

Know before you go

Your safety is your responsibility

Know the Outdoor Safety Code - 5 simple rules to help you #makeithome.

Stay on the marked tracks

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.

Be prepared for all conditions

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.

Hypothermia (too cold)

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.

  • Prevention: wear warm and weatherproof gear. Eat and drink regularly during your walk/ride.
  • Watch for symptoms: people may shiver, be clumsy, confused, has slurred speech, and deny they have a problem.
  • Treatment: immediately make or find shelter; get the person into dry, warm clothing, put them into a sleeping bag, give them warm, sweet drinks, monitor them and seek immediate medical help.
Heat exhaustion

This can be serious and is usually caused by physical activity in a hot environment and not drinking enough water.

  • Prevention: carry and drink water regularly throughout your walk.
  • Watch for symptoms: headaches, thirst, weakness, dizziness, nausea or vomiting.
  • Treatment: move to a cool shaded area to rest, remove excess clothing and give water to drink.

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.

Be prepared for difficult riding sections

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.

Watch out for Ongaonga (tree nettle)

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 your plans

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.



Pike29 Memorial Track

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.


Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 731 1895
Fax:   +64 4 471 1117
Email:   paparoavc@doc.govt.nz
Address:   4294 Coast Road
RD 1
Runanga 7873
Postal Address:   4294 Coast Road
RD 1
Runanga 7873
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