The 10th addition to New Zealand’s Great Walks collection is set to open in 2018 on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island. // © 2016 Tourism New Zealand
Feature image (above): New Zealand’s limestone Punakaiki Pancake Rocks are located in Paparoa National Park, the site of the 27-mile track. // © 2016 Tourism New Zealand
Fans of the spectacular hiking in New Zealand are in luck. The down-under island nation is adding a 10th outing to its marvelous collection of Great Walks, a group of state-maintained tracks traveling through some of the county’s most breathtaking natural scenery.
Scheduled to open in 2018, the 27-mile Pike29 Memorial Track will be constructed on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island in Paparoa National Park, a preserve famous for the Punakaiki Pancake Rocks — unique limestone formations dating back 30 million years.
“The Pike29 Memorial Track will be a stunning addition to New Zealand’s network of Great Walks,” said Nick Smith, environment minister for New Zealand. “The scenery of the limestone gorges of the Pororari Valley, combined with views of the Tasman Coast, the Pancake Rocks and the Southern Alps from the Moonlight Range, will make it a spectacular track.”
The Pike29 Memorial track construction will also include a 15-square-mile extension of Paparoa National Park to include part of the Pike River region, serving as a memorial to the 29 men killed in the 2010 Pike River Mine disaster. Officials are estimating that the total cost of the project, which will include a pair of 20-bed huts for hikers or mountain bikers interested in overnight accommodations, will be about $10 million.
“This Pike29 Memorial Track and an enlarged national park has come about because of the families’ determination that some good might come from the terrible tragedy that occurred on Nov. 19, 2010,” Smith said. “It will bring tourism and economic development to the west coast, permanently protect an area of high conservation values and ensure that the final resting place of the 29 miners is accessible but properly respected.”
New Zealand’s existing network of multiday Great Walks dates back to 1993, and the Pike29 Memorial track will be the first addition since then. It will also be the only hike located entirely on the nation’s west coast.
Other Great Walks include the 26-mile Tongariro Northern Circuit on North Island, the 28-mile Lake Waikaremoana trek and the 37-mile Abel Tasman Coast Track on South Island.
The Pike29 Great Walk will begin in the small town of Blackball, a community home to about 400 residents that dates back to the late 1800s, when the region attracted some gold seekers before later supporting a coal-mining industry.