Track construction underway
Work on the Paparoa Track started just over two months ago and to date, just over 1.7 km of track has been cut, with gravelling complete over a good deal of that distance. Two teams are currently working on the track, one team cutting uphill away from the Pike Mine Site, and another team working on establishing track in the Pororari River Valley.
While this is happening, DOC has called for tenders for four large suspension bridges, and is preparing to start the construction of a number of smaller footbridges. We're also getting the ground prepared and camps established at the Moonlight Tops Hut and Pororari Hut sites, where a hut construction team will be building new huts.
Contractors have been hard at work and making great progress
A new section of track near the Pororari River
At the worksites, contractors are busy cutting and gravelling tracks, and we're all working together to make sure that the layout of the tracks is correct, so that water flows off them well and they will be fun and safe to ride and walk.
The new track will be New Zealand's first year-round shared use (biking and walking) track. It will cross the southern Paparoa Range, through iconic West Coast rainforests, unique alpine tops and a stunning limestone karst landscape.
A memorial track and interpretation centre dedicated to the memory of the 29 miners killed at the Pike River Mine will also be constructed and will provide a place for quiet reflection of the 2010 tragedy.
It is anticipated that the track will be complete by April 2019.
Introduction to the Paparoa Track construction project
Watch this short video where people involved in bringing the project to life talk about its significance.
Blackball Hall gets a facelift for community and new track visitors
With construction of the new Great Walk and Memorial Track getting underway, Blackball residents have been hard at work fixing up their ageing community hall. The beautiful wooden house and adjoining hall were gifted to the community by the Blackball Coal Mine when it closed in 1964 but had fallen into disrepair in recent times.
Work is nearly complete, and the hall will once again be available as a community facility having received important repairs and a freshly painted exterior thanks to funds from the Blackball District Community Centre Committee and a donation of Dulux paint from the Department of Conservation. The iconic Formerly the Blackball Hilton has also had a massive facelift and was repainted in 2016.
The new track presents a great opportunity for the Blackball community. The Grey District Council and DOC are working closely with the Blackball Residents Association Trust to scope and plan for improvements to local infrastructure facilities for residents and visitors in the wider Grey Valley area.
The Greymouth District Council has so far committed 200,000 to its annual plan for the building of new toilets and beautification of the main road running through Blackball.
An open day at Blackball provided information, inspiration and ideas for people interested in the Great Walk.
The council is also applying for funds for new toilets, secure car parking and road improvement works in Blackball in anticipation of the track opening in 2019.
Blackball open day
There was an excellent turnout to the Blackball Hall for the Open Day held on Saturday, 19 August.
It was a chance for people to learn about the new track and explore commercial and community opportunities around it.
Tourism experts, the local Tai Poutini Polytechnic and development, conservation and local government representatives were on hand to share ideas and answer questions.