In response to the growing popularity of hiking, the country's Department of Conservation (DOC) decided to expand its existing family of nine Great Walks. The 55km track Paparoa Track has been designated the tenth Great Walk, and it runs from Blackball on the eastern side of the Paparoa Range to Punakaiki on the western side. Designed for both mountain-bikers and walkers, it was created using 14km of existing trail and the addition of 41km of new track.
The Paparoa Track was built in conjunction with the Pike29 Memorial Track, which takes walkers and riders to Pike Valley’s memorial site and interpretation centre. It is designed to commemorate the lives of the 29 miners who lost their lives in the 2010 Pike River Mine Disaster. New Zealand Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage said the tracks will "create a lasting legacy and a significant new recreational and economic opportunity for the West Coast."
The Great Walks are premier tracks that pass through diverse and spectacular scenery, and are well-formed and easy to follow. They take in native forests, lakes and rivers, rugged mountain peaks, deep gorges and vast valleys. While many people prefer to explore on their own terms, guided trips are also available. Great Walks are accessible from major towns that are well serviced by local operators and accommodation and transport providers. DOC offers accommodation in huts on all ten Great Walks.
“With its stunning landscapes, forests and views, we expect this to be a really popular choice for visitors," says Paul Carberry, founder of New Zealand In Depth. "More than 6600 nights have already been booked into the huts, out of the 8500 available in the next 12 months – so it’s a good idea to plan ahead for this one.”
New Zealand In Depth is offering a trip that includes international flights. Twelve nights' accommodation, two nights in huts on the Paparoa Track, car hire, track transfer and Tranz Alpine train, and further information is available here. For additional information on the newest Great Walk, please see here.