The Paparoa Track

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paparoa track map

Paparoa Track

The track is a well-formed shared tramping/hiking and mountain biking trail

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. 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.

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

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