Former Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith and National’s West Coast spokesperson Maureen Pugh welcome the official opening of the Paparoa Track on the West Coast.
“The new 55km Paparoa Track between Blackball and Punakaiki and the 10km Pike29 Memorial Track to the mine site are about remembering the men whose lives were lost and providing a new economic asset for the West Coast,” Dr Smith says.
“I pay tribute to Bernie Monk and the Pike Families for initiating this project, and the Department of Conservation (DOC) staff and contractors that have seen it through.
“Funding for this Great Walk was approved by Cabinet in 2016 on the basis of estimates that, five years after opening, it would see 1,000 users each year. I’m delighted that already bookings for the first year have topped 3,000.
“It’s been a tremendous privilege to have been among the first to walk the track over the past three days. The Moonlight Tops Hut has one of the most spectacular vistas I’ve seen of the many hundreds of DOC huts I’ve stayed in around New Zealand.”
“Tourism is a vital part of the West Coast economy and the new Paparoa Great Walk will bring thousands of trampers and mountain bikers to the region. It’s significant because it’s the only Great Walk that’s exclusively on the Coast,” Mrs Pugh says.
“The new track is so important to ensuring we never forget the tragedy of Pike River and the 29 lost men. The Memorial Track down to the mine site will allow people to access this area of the National Park and pay their respects.”