The West Coast of the South Island is fast becoming a must-do mountain biking destination and they’ll be one more reason to visit come 2019, with the completion of the Paparoa Track. Built as a memorial to the 29 men who died in the 2010 Pike River Mine disaster, the track is set to become New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk and will also be open to mountain bikers.
Once complete, the 55 kilometre trail will stretch from Blackball in the south to Punakaiki on the coast, providing access to the remote alpine scenery of the Paparoa Range. An additional Pike29 Memorial Track will give walkers and bikers the option to view the site of the former Pike River Mine.
Mountain bikers can expect long, steep climbs, narrow track and unpredictable obstacles. The route will be classed a Grade 4: Advanced, meaning you will need good gear and plenty of experience. Plan to spend one night on the track, although fitter riders will be able to complete the route in one day. There will be two Great Walks huts available along the route, which must be booked in advance.
Unlike the Heaphy Track which only allows access to mountain bikers between 1 May and 30 November, the Paparoa Track will be open to bikers all year-round.
Rich in mining history, the Paparoa Range is renowned for its dramatic limestone karst landscapes, thriving rainforests and breathtaking views of the Southern Alps. The combined walking and biking track is set to open in April 2019 – we’ll keep you posted on its progress!
Have a good week,