A new Great Walk through the Paparoa National Park to be built as a memorial to the 29 men who died in the 2010 Pike Mine tragedy can now proceed with the approval of a new Park Management Plan, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“The 65km Great Walk will provide access to the spectacular and diverse landscapes of southern Paparoa National Park. The track required changes to the Paparoa National Park Management Plan that have been approved by the New Zealand Conservation Authority. The track will be open to both trampers and mountain bikers. At the Punakaiki end, the popular Pororari River Track is proposed for walkers only, with mountain bikers provided with an alternative route via the southern end of the Inland Pack Track. Construction of the $10 million track is expected to start in late autumn and the Great Walk is due to open at the end of 2018.
“The families want the Great Walk to be an enduring memorial to their loved ones that brings lasting economic benefit to the West Coast. The families also see the track as a thank you to the West Coast community and to New Zealand for the support the families received following the mine tragedy.
“Paparoa Track is the name chosen by the Pike River Families Committee for the track between Blackball and Punakaiki, and the Pike29 Memorial Track for the 9km section of the Great Walk leading from the Paparoa Track to the Pike River Mine site,” Dr Smith says.
“The Paparoa Track includes 15km of existing track at its Blackball and Punakaiki ends and about 50km of new track needs to be constructed for the Paparoa and Pike29 Memorial tracks. The Department of Conservation (DOC) is working through the process to appoint contractors to carry out the work.
“Construction of the 20-bunk Moonlight Tops and Pororari huts on the Paparoa Track is planned to start next summer to take advantage of the better summer weather.
“DOC is working closely with Pike River Families Committee representatives on the design and development of the Great Walk and on the planning for an information centre at the Pike River Mine site.”
“I commend DOC staff, Ngāti Waewae, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, and the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board for their excellent work in achieving the review of the park plan within 12 months. I also thank the New Zealand Conservation Authority for its decisions on the new Paparoa National Park Management Plan and their timely approval of it.
“The Paparoa Track is fantastic news for the West Coast, with multiple benefits. It adds to the West Coast’s tourism attractions and is the first addition to the Great Walk network since 1993. It is a fitting memorial to the 29 men lost. It will make a spectacular part of the West Coast more accessible. The $10m construction cost over the next 18 months will also help the local economy.”