New Zealand’s newest Great Walk is due to open in 2019 but for those salivating over the idea of a shared-use hiking and mountain biking track across the South Island’s Paparoa Range, here’s a network of nearby existing tracks to experience.
The Paparoa Track, Pike29 Memorial Track and two new huts between Greymouth and Punakaiki are currently under construction. Once complete, these tracks will take walkers and cyclists through the Paparoa National Park and some of the West Coast’s most stunning scenery and bush. It’s a place where kererū swoop low overhead in verdant forests and the exposed mountain tops are rugged and changeable.
To get a taste of what’s to come, check out the Croesus Track, an historic pack track that winds its way through mixed beech and podocarp forest past remnants of gold mining’s early days in the area.
The Croesus Track, from the Smoke-ho carpark near Blackball, to the Ces Clark Hut on the tops will become the first leg of the new Great Walk but it’s already an ideal track for beginner trampers, families and intermediate to advanced mountain bikers, and can be done as a day trip or overnight.
Ces Clark Hut*, with commanding views across the tussock-covered tops, is one of the best places on the Coast to watch the sunset! It’s a sunny, 16-bunk serviced hut that’s a destination in and of itself.
There are several options for more experienced trampers to extend their Croesus trip. From Ces Clark, follow a poled route along the tops to a branch track that heads downhill toward Barrytown through coastal forest and nikau palms.
Alternatively, start your tramp up Moonlight Creek near Atarau. The reward for this longer journey is more time on the tops!
If tranquil water and towering limestone cliffs are more your flavour, head to Punakaiki’s Pororari River Track for a relaxing riverside stroll through sub-tropical forest. This is a short, walking-only track that can be made into a half-day loop trip by carrying on along the Inland Pack Track to the nearby Punakaiki River valley. Both these tracks will be incorporated into the final section of the new Great Walk.
The new Paparoa and Pike29 Memorial Tracks will soon link these existing tracks to create an outstanding network of recreation options on the Coast. In the meantime, come and check them out!