Paparoa Track New Zealand: A Guide to the Newest Great Walk Trail

Paparoa Track New Zealand

Paparoa Track is a 34.6 mi (55.7-kilometer) dual-use trail that connects Blackball with Punakaiki on the West Coast of New Zealand.

It is the country’s newest Great Walk, purpose-built, shared-use for walkers and mountain bikers, and maintained to DOC Great Walk and Advanced standards. The trail takes you on a journey over New Zealand’s spectacular Paparoa Range, passing through varied landscapes from subtropical rainforest to alpine tops.

The Paparoa Track is a popular destination for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts from all over the world.

The Great Walk begins at its southern end at Smoke-ho car park near Blackball, about a 30-minute drive from Greymouth, and ends at Punakaiki on the West Coast. The track offers stunning views of the Tasman Sea, the Paparoa Range, and the surrounding landscapes, making it a photographer’s paradise.

hiking Paparoa Track New Zealand

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, the Paparoa Track has something to offer for everyone. The track can be completed in three to four days, and there are plenty of huts and campsites along the way where you can rest and refuel.

If you’re a mountain biker, you can complete the track in two days, but you’ll need to be fit and experienced to tackle some of the steeper sections.


The Paparoa Track is a 55-kilometer long hiking and mountain biking trail located on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island. It is the country’s newest Great Walk and offers a unique and unforgettable experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

visit Paparoa Track New Zealand

The track takes you through a diverse range of landscapes, including alpine tops, limestone formations, and lush rainforests. Along the way, you’ll encounter stunning views of the Tasman Sea, the Paparoa Range, and the surrounding countryside.

One of the most unique aspects of the Paparoa Track is that it is designed for both hikers and mountain bikers. The track is shared-use, meaning that bikers and hikers will need to be aware of each other and share the trail. The track is well-maintained and offers a variety of challenges for both hikers and bikers of different skill levels.

The Great Walk begins at its southern end at Smoke-ho car park near Blackball and ends at Punakaiki on the West Coast. The track can be completed in three days by hikers, with two overnight stays in huts along the way. Bikers can complete the track in two days, with one overnight stay in a hut.


The history of Paparoa Track New Zealand

The Paparoa Track is a relatively new addition to New Zealand’s Great Walks, having opened on December 1, 2019.

Its creation was motivated by the tragic events of the Pike River Mine disaster in 2010, which claimed the lives of 29 miners. The track was built as a tribute to the miners and to help bring visitors to the area.

The construction of the track began in 2017 and involved a massive effort from a team of builders and volunteers. The track was designed to be accessible to both hikers and mountain bikers, and it covers a distance of 55.7 km (34.6 mi) through the stunning landscapes of Paparoa National Park.

Despite its recent construction, the Paparoa Track is steeped in history. The area was once home to the Ngāi Tahu people, who have a deep spiritual connection to the land. Evidence of their presence can still be seen in the form of rock art, middens, and other archaeological sites.

During the 19th century, the area was also home to a thriving coal mining industry. The miners who worked in the area faced many challenges, including difficult working conditions and the constant threat of accidents.

Today, visitors to the Paparoa Track can learn about the area’s rich history through interpretive panels and other educational materials.

Trail Information

route Paparoa National Park New Zealand


The Paparoa Track is a 55.7km dual-use trail that connects Blackball with Punakaiki.

The track runs across the Paparoa Ranges and is well-formed and maintained to DOC Great Walk and Advanced standards. The track is purpose-built and is shared by both walkers and mountain bikers.


The Paparoa Track is considered a challenging route, with steep climbs and descents, rocky terrain, and exposed alpine sections.

The track requires a moderate to high level of fitness and experience. Walkers and bikers should be prepared for changing weather conditions and should carry appropriate gear and supplies.


The Paparoa Track takes approximately 3-4 days to complete on foot, with an average walking time of 7-8 hours per day.

For bikers, the track takes between 2-3 days to complete, with an average biking time of 3.5-5.5 hours per day. The track is open year-round, but the best time to visit is from October to April when the weather is more favorable.


The Paparoa Track has three Department of Conservation huts along the route, providing basic accommodation for walkers and bikers.

The huts are located at Pororari River, Moonlight Tops, and Ces Clark Hut. The huts have bunk beds, cooking facilities, and toilets.

Walkers and bikers need to bring their own sleeping bags, food, and cooking utensils. Camping is not permitted along the track.

What to Bring

The Paparoa Track is a challenging hike and requires proper preparation to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

packing for Paparoa Track New Zealand

Here are some essential items you should bring:

  • A sturdy and comfortable backpack with a capacity of at least 40L
  • A waterproof backpack cover and pack liner to keep your gear dry
  • Sturdy and comfortable hiking boots with good ankle support
  • Warm and waterproof clothing, including a rain jacket and pants, thermal layers, and a hat and gloves
  • A first aid kit with essential items such as plasters, antiseptic cream, and painkillers
  • A water bottle with a capacity of at least 2L, as there are limited water sources along the track
  • A headlamp or flashlight with extra batteries
  • A map and compass, as well as a GPS device or smartphone with offline maps
  • A camera to capture the stunning scenery

It’s also important to pack light and only bring the essentials, as you’ll be carrying your backpack for the duration of the hike. Remember to leave no trace and take all rubbish with you.

If you’re planning to stay in the huts along the track, you’ll need to bring your own sleeping bag, as well as food and cooking equipment. Alternatively, you can book a guided tour that includes accommodation and meals.

By bringing the right gear and packing light, you’ll be well-prepared for the challenges of the Paparoa Track and able to fully enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the West Coast.

Safety Tips

The Paparoa Track is a beautiful and challenging hike that requires proper preparation and attention to safety.

Paparoa Track
Paparoa Track

Here are some tips to help you stay safe while enjoying your hike:

  • Before starting the hike, make sure you have checked the weather forecast and have appropriate clothing and gear for the conditions.
  • Carry enough water and food for the entire hike, and bring a water filter or purification tablets in case you need to refill your water bottles from streams or rivers.
  • Wear sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support to avoid injuries on the rocky terrain.
  • Stay on the marked trail and follow the instructions given by the Department of Conservation (DOC) to avoid getting lost or injured.
  • Be aware of the wildlife in the area, including the possibility of encountering venomous spiders and snakes. Keep a safe distance and avoid disturbing them.
  • Carry a first aid kit with basic supplies such as bandages, antiseptic, and pain relievers.
  • Sign the hut books when you arrive at the huts and let someone know your planned route and expected return time.
  • Respect the environment by packing out all your trash and avoiding damaging the plants and wildlife.

By following these safety tips, you can enjoy the stunning scenery and challenging terrain of the Paparoa Track while minimizing the risks of accidents or injuries.


Overall, the Paparoa Track in New Zealand is an incredible experience for hikers and mountain bikers alike. The track offers a diverse range of landscapes, from alpine tops to limestone karst formations and thriving rainforests, making it a unique and unforgettable journey.

While the track was born from tragedy, it now stands as a symbol of hope and resilience, showcasing the beauty and strength of New Zealand’s natural environment. The Paparoa Track is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to escape the stresses of modern life and connect with nature.

Visitors should be prepared for the track’s challenging terrain and changing weather conditions, but the effort is well worth it for the stunning views and peaceful serenity that await. Those who complete the track will have not only conquered a physical challenge but also gained a deeper appreciation for the natural world.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a first-time adventurer, the Paparoa Track is an experience not to be missed. So pack your bags, lace up your boots, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through one of New Zealand’s most awe-inspiring wilderness areas.

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