With just under six weeks until the first bushwalkers and mountain bikers experience the Paparoa Track, Department of Conservation (DOC) and local 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 bushwalkers 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.
The track has been under construction since mid-2017, when work started on the build of 41km of purpose built walking and mountain biking track, to link 14km of existing trails. The total length of the Great Walk is 55km walking and 56km 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.”