Paparoa Track | Pike 29 Memorial Track
Time: 2–3 days walking, 1–2 days mountain biking one way
Distance: 55 km one way
Places to stay
There are two 20-bunks huts that must be booked in advance year round. Huts have bunks, mattresses, heating, gas cook tops, toilets and a water supply. A DOC ranger may be present. Huts do not provide food, cooking utensils or showers.
Smoke-ho car park (Croesus Track) to Moonlight Tops Hut
Time: 6–8 hr
Distance: 19.9 km
The track begins at its southern end at Smoke-ho car park near Blackball, about a 45-minute drive from Greymouth. Beginning on the existing Croesus Track, with remnants of the area’s goldmining history, the track ascends through beech and podocarp forest before crossing alpine scrub and tussock. You will be rewarded with expansive views of Grey River/Māwheranui to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west. Moonlight Tops Hut (to be built) provides spectacular views across the Punakaiki River headwaters to the Pike Stream escarpment and north to the Paparoa National Park.
Moonlight Tops Hut to Pororari Hut
Time: 5–7 hr
Distance: 18.7 km
Open tops give way to alpine forest stunted by the harsh environment. Along this section of the track you meet the junction of the Pike ridge with the main Paparoa Range. Here the Pike29 Memorial Track to the Pike River Mine site begins. Beyond the junction, the Paparoa Track winds along the top of the escarpment where the landscape is strikingly dramatic with sheer drops and stunning views down the Pike Stream in the east, stretching west to Punakaiki and north-west to Westport. About halfway to Pororari Hut (to be built), you descend from the escarpment to walk through ancient podocarp forest under towering cliffs. The track then follows the spine of the Tindale ridge to Pororari Hut. As you traverse the ridge, look north to see the Lone Hand, a curious and gnarled outcrop of bedrock on the north side of the Pororari River.
Pororari Hut to Pororari River car park or Waikori Road car park
Time: 4–5 hr
Distance: 16.4 km to Pororari River car park, 17.1 km to Waikori Road carpark
Paparoa Track then descends and follow the upper Pororari River valley, just above the river itself, until it joins an old pack track built to establish settlement in the upper valley. The track sidles a spectacular gorge and descend towards the coast through beech forest interspersed with northern rātā. From here you will catch glimpses of the lower Pororari River Gorge. At the junction with the historic Inland Pack Track, walkers and mountain bikers diverge: walkers follow the Pororari River Track which sidles the lower gorge with its striking limestone cliffs; mountain bikers descend into the Punakaiki River valley, ending at Waikori Road car park. Both pass through lush rainforest with serene glades of nīkau palms.
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
Pike29 Memorial Track
Time: 4–5 hr one way from junction with Paparoa Track
Distance: 10.8 km one way
From the junction of Pike Ridge with the main Paparoa ridge the track heads east towards the Grey valley. The ridge top offers views into Pike valley and the Pike River Mine vent shaft to the north, and bush-clad valleys to the south. The vegetation consists of low alpine scrub and dwarf, weather-beaten alpine forest that could have come from a scene in a Tolkien text. The track then drops down into the Pike valley through virgin podocarp and red beech forest to its terminus at the Pike River Mine Interpretation Centre.
The track can be started from its intersection with the Paparoa Track or from Pike car park on the Pike River Mine access road. To reach the car park from Blackball, follow Atarau Road for about 16 km, then turn into Logburn Road. Follow this for about 6 km then turn onto the Pike River Mine access road.
Remembering the Pike 29
The mine portal will be a place for quiet reflection of the 29 men killed inthe Pike River Mine tragedy. At the families’ wishes, the mine site and surrounding area has become part of Paparoa National Park. The men will be remembered through an information centre being developed at the Pike River Mine, where displays will tell the story of the mine and the 2010 disaster. Read about Pike River mine explosion