Opening on 1st December 2019, the Paparoa Track is a 3 day walk crossing the Paparoa Range. The walk covers a distance of 55km and is full of breathtaking views, alpine tops, limestone karst landscapes and thriving rainforests. This is how we would incorporate New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk into a 2 week itinerary.
Day 1: Christchurch
Christchurch was recently named as one of the’ Top 10 Cities’ to visit by Lonely Planet for its innovative approach to its earthquake rebuild. You will see this in many of the new buildings and the energy and inventiveness of the local population.
Accommodation in Christchurch for 1 night.
Day 2: Christchurch – Greymouth/Blackball
Today you will join the TranzAlpine train journey taking you west across the Southern Alps from Christchurch to Greymouth. On arrival you will collect your hire car and you will drive to your accommodation in Greymouth or Blackball.
Accommodation in Greymouth/Blackball for 1 night.
Day 3: Greymouth – Moonlight Tops Hut, Paparoa Track
Today you will drive to Smoke-ho car park at the start of the Paparoa Track – New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk. The Paparoa Track crosses the Paparoa Range. It takes you through alpine tops, limestone karst landscapes and thriving rainforests, and provides breathtaking views. Today you will have a 20km walk to Moonlight Tops Hut.
Beginning on the historic Croesus Track, with remnants of the area’s gold mining history, the track ascends through beech and podocarp forest before reaching Ces Clark Hut. Beyond the hut you pass through alpine scrub and tussock, and you will be rewarded with expansive views of Grey River/Māwheranui to the east and the Tasman Sea to the west.
Accommodation in a Moonlight Tops Hut for 1 night. Moonlight Tops Hut provides spectacular views across the Punakaiki River headwaters to the Pike Stream escarpment and north across the Paparoa National Park.
Day 4: Moonlight Tops Hut – Pororari Hut, Paparoa Track
Open tops give way to alpine forest stunted by the harsh environment. The track winds along the top of the escarpment, with steep cliffs and stunning views. About half-way to Pororari Hut, you descend from the escarpment through ancient podocarp forest. The track then follows the ridge above Tindale Creek to Pororari Hut. Keep an eye out for the Lone Hand, a gnarled outcrop of rock on the north side of the Pororari River.
Accommodation in Pororari Hut for 1 night.
Day 5: Pororari Hut, Paparoa Track – Punakaiki
Today you will walk 16km from Pororari Hut to Pororari River car park and you will then walk another 1km into Punakaiki.
The track descends and follows the upper Pororari River valley, until it joins an old track built to establish settlement in the upper valley. The track sidles along a spectacular gorge and descends through beech forest interspersed with northern rātā. Follow the track beside the Pororari River through the lower gorge passing through lush rainforest with glades of nīkau palms.
Accommodation in Punakaiki for 2 nights.
Day 6: Punakaiki
You will spend today in Punakaiki and may want to visit the Pancake Rocks and Truman Track.
Day 7: Punakaiki – Hokitika
Hokitika was first settled back in 1860 after the discovery of gold on the west coast and there are some lovely old buildings in the township. It is now best known as the centre of pounamu or jade production in New Zealand.
Accommodation in Hokitika for 2 nights.
Day 8: Hokitika
You will spend today exploring Lake Kaniere with its walks and kayaking, the Treetop Canopy Walkway and the jade and glass blowing studios of Hokitika as well as Hokitika Gorge.
Day 9: Hokitika – Okarito
A 2 hour drive south today towards Glacier Country and Okarito. Okarito is a tiny community situated right on the beach between the Tasman Sea and the mountains of the Southern Alps. It is also famous for its lagoon, more than 3,000 hectares of shallow open water, wetland, salt marsh, dunes and forest. The area is home to a huge variety of birdlife and offers some of the most peaceful and memorable kayaking and coastal walking in New Zealand.
Okarito is only half an hour away from the very busy Franz Josef from where you can take helicopter flights out to the glaciers but almost no tourists come out here so it is the perfect base.
Accommodation in an Okarito bach for 3 nights.
Day 10: Okarito
This morning you will join a boat cruise on Okarito Lagoon and this afternoon you may want to hike to the Trig Point for stunning views of the West Coast, Mt Cook and Mt Tasman.
Day 11: Okarito
Today you may want to explore Franz Josef glacier, go kayaking on Okarito Lagoon or hike in the region. This evening you could join a kiwi spotting tour.
Day 12: Okarito – Wanaka
A 4½ hour drive today will first take you south through Glacier Country and along the coast to Haast. You will then head inland and uphill through the Haast Pass to Wanaka. There are numerous walks along the way including Munro Beach, Ship Creek, Thunder Creek Falls, Blue Pools and Fantail Falls.
Wanaka is beautifully positioned on the shores of Lake Wanaka and is overlooked by the mountains of Mount Aspiring National Park.
Accommodation in Wanaka for 3 nights.
Day 13: Wanaka
Today you could join one of the best one day hikes in New Zealand which takes you to Rob Roy Glacier and provides breathtaking views of the West Matukituki valley. And then there is the more challenging walk to Roys Peak with a total ascent of 1,300m.
Day 14: Wanaka
Day 15: Wanaka – Queenstown
A 1½ hour drive today will take you on the spectacular drive that is the Crown Range Road, the highest main road in New Zealand, to Queenstown Airport. You will return your hire car before departing New Zealand or you may like to extend your stay in NZ.