With just under two months until the first walkers and mountain bikers experience the Paparoa Track, DOC and Blackball residents are getting ready for the long-awaited opening of what will be New Zealand’s first purpose built shared-use Great Walk.
The first walkers and bikers will embark on the track on 1 December, with an official opening event and celebration of the track build to be held in Blackball on 30 November.
Ben Hodgson, Greymouth Senior Community Ranger, says the opening event will celebrate the journey of the Paparoa Track build and all the incredible work put in to complete it.
“There will be displays and live music, and we’re expecting a big turnout in Blackball.”
The celebration will be attended by family members of the Pike 29, Ngāti Waewae representatives, and government ministers, along with the track building crews, DOC staff and community members.
In the evening, following the official event, the Blackball community is organising a concert called, “All Tracks Lead to Blackball” which will feature the Warratahs, Katie Thompson and the Brewery Hill Band. Ticket sales will be available on Eventfinda.
The track has been under construction since mid-2017, when work started on the build of 41 km of purpose built walking and mountain biking track, to link 14 km of existing trails. The total length of the Great Walk is 55 km walking and 56 km cycling and it will be a two-day mountain bike ride, or three day walk.
Ben Hodgson says the opening of the track is exciting for the West Coast.
“The three huts on the track already have a 76% occupancy rate for the first five months of the season to the end of April 2020. There is a real buzz about this track and the opportunities it brings for our communities, as well as the new recreation opportunities it opens up on the West Coast.
“Paparoa National Park has previously only been accessible to hardy and experienced outdoors people. With the opening of the track, many more people will be able to experience the beauty of this part of New Zealand.”
The Pike29 Memorial Track will be opened separately to the Paparoa Track, once the Pike River Recovery Agency has completed its work at the mine site and the site passed to DOC. An interpretation centre will be built at the mine site to commemorate the 29 miners who died in the Pike River mine disaster in 2010. The centre will also tell the story of mine safety in New Zealand.