`
Last orders for custom goods for christmas delivery in NZ will be the 23/11/2020. To ensure delivery before christmas on "In Stock" items order before the 21/12/2020.

Bikepacking the Paparoa Track

The Paparoa Track - What and where?

The Paparoa Track opened in December 2019 and is the first Great Walk of New Zealand to allow biking all year round. This is incredibly exciting for bikepackers new and old. The 56.2km shared use track traverses the Paparoa range travelling from Blackball to Punakaiki on the West coast. The majority of the track is purpose built NEW trail. Along the way you will find two brand new huts.

The track is classed as a Grade 4 and is designed to be ridden over two days, staying in one of the huts along the way. With the West Coast known for its wild and wet weather you certainly need to pack for the all of the elements, ensuring you have enough clothing to stay warm and dry no matter what the weather brings.

My Sant Cruz Chameleon loaded up for bikepacking

Crossing one of the many bridges.

Pushing a steep pinch.

Pushing a steep pinch. Don't forget to take in the beautiful foliage.

We started our trip from Blackball on a rather grey and drizzly day. Before even leaving the car park we met the Ground Effect crew coming out from the previous night. They had tales of hailstorms and wet cold rain on the tops and certainly looked rather cold. Despite this they had enjoyed the adventure and wished us well as we loaded up our bikes. 

Another swing bridge.

The Paparoa has many swing bridges at the start of the track. They are relatively tame so do not worry if you are a little weary of heights.

A creek crossing in typical full west coast flow.

A creek crossing in typical full west coast flow.

The first part of the trail is an old mining trail and was hard going to bike on. The combination of chunky rocks, loaded bikes and reasonable uphill gradient made this a rather challenging climb. After a couple of hours this felt a bit relentless and it became important to make sure we were well fueled and warm. It may be easy for some to underestimate this climb so make sure you have plenty of energy in the bank and high spirits when you begin. 

Taking a break from the hard climb.

Taking a break to re-fuel before carrying on up the track. 

Finally made it above the tree-line!

Finally made it above the tree-line! This was a massive achievement in itself.

It took us a good three hours to get to Ces Clark Hut situated at 960m altitude and at the southern end of the Paparoa Range. Here a tramper had the fire going so we took the opportunity to warm up, eat some lunch and layer up for the windy cold ridges ahead. 

Avereage weather but still beautiful scenery.

Despite the cold, rain and hail the scenery did not disappoint.

My Sant Cruz Chameleon loaded up for bikepacking

My Santa Cruz Chameleon on the tops of the Paparoa Range. Here I was carrying enough gear for one night and all possible weather conditions. 

The track from Ces Clark Hut to Moonlight Tops Hut is all brand new trail, carved into the ridges by diggers and surfaced with rock crushed from the surroundings. The track meanders along the ridge, weaving its way up and down and from one side of the ridge to the other. The riding at this point is probably a bit easier physically but with some steep drops down the sides of the track you don't want to get too out of control!

Riding along the Moonlight Tops

Riding along the Moonlight Tops

Alpine flowers in the clouds.

Alpine flowers in the clouds.

The scenery along the ridge is really second to none. The alpine tussock growing on the bed of red rock make you feel as though you are riding high up in a completely alpine environment. But when the clouds lift you can see the ocean rolling onto the West Coast just at the bottom of the hills. 

The exposed ridge along the Paparoa Range

The exposed ridge along the Paparoa Range

A beern well earnt.

A beer well earnt.

Moonlight Tops Hut was our stop for the night, and after a hard six hours groveling through the wind and rain we were happy to make it. The hut being brand new and built especially for the trail had all the mod-cons making it an enjoyable place to spend the evening. 

Moonlight Tops Hut - The morning after.

Moonlight Tops Hut - The morning after.

The bikes lined up outside Moonlight Tops hut.

The bikes lined up outside Moonlight Tops hut.

The next morning the cloud hugging the hills had lifted slightly and we were able to take in some of the magnificent views from the hut. Sadly a week before the trail opened there was a major slip on the section of trail between Moonlight Tops hut and Pororari Hut meaning we couldn't ride through to the Punakaiki end of the trail. Not a huge problem though as now we had that hard climb from yesterday to descend back down on.

Paparoa Track - Bikepacking

The surroundings blanketed in cloud on the first day was in full view to be experienced in all of its glory as we rode back out. 

Paparoa track and the West Coast down below.

The ocean seems only a moment away. 

It was a real bonus to be able to see the trail and surroundings in the sunlight, revealing the true beauty of the track and landscape. The track back to Ces Clark Hut was much the same as yesterday - short climbs and fast flowing descents, all very enjoyable. 

The freshly built track winding its way along the Paparoa Range.

The freshly built track winding its way along the Paparoa Range.

The view from Ces Clark hut.

The view from Ces Clark hut.

After a quick stop at Ces Clark hut for some food and drink the trail continued on into the trees down into the valley. Here you need to keep your speed in check as it can easily get away on you and there were riders coming up to look out for too. 

Dappled light coming through the trees make for idyllic riding.

Dappled light coming through the trees make for idyllic riding.

Speeding down the Paparoa track descent

Speeding down the descent.

Back down on the valley floor. Ces Clark hut is on the ridge to the left.

Back down on the valley floor. Ces Clark Hut is on the ridge to the left. 

Back at the end. What and adventure!

Back at the start. What an adventure!

Overall the short overnighter was well worth it. Well built trails, good facilities and excellent scenery made for a lovely time. I will be sure to book in to do it again once the repairs are done and you can ride the full length of this beautiful track. Thanks to the Department of Conservation for allowing more and more bikepackers to enjoy our beautiful country.