Construction is set to start by the end of this month on the new Great Walk in Paparoa National Park in memory of the 29 men who died in the 2010 Pike River Mine disaster, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith announced today.
“A West Coast company and one from Nelson will work with the Department of Conservation (DOC) on construction of the Paparoa and Pike29 Memorial tracks,” 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.
“Westreef Services Limited from Westport will construct two sections of the track, from the Pororari River Track at the Punakaiki end to the Pororari Hut site, and from Pororari Hut up to and along the top of the towering Escarpment to the junction of the Paparoa Track and the Pike29 Memorial Track.
“Nelmac Limited from Nelson will construct the Pike29 Memorial Track and a section of Paparoa Track from the junction with the Pike29 Memorial Track to the bush line south of Mt Anderson. DOC staff will build new track from there to the Moonlight Tops Hut site and beyond it to connect with the existing Croesus Track.
“The Natural Construction Company of Westport will build the two 20-bunk huts, the Moonlight Tops and Pororari huts, with this work due to start in September.
“This Great Walk will be the first to be purpose-built as a mountain biking and walking track and it will have the distinction of being the only one to have this year-round shared use. It is expected to open in April 2019.
“DOC staff will also work on the mountain bike route to the lower Punakaiki Valley. This is intended to follow the southern end of the Inland Pack Track but sections of new track will be built around parts of the existing track to meet the required Advanced/Grade 4 mountain biking track standards. Walkers will take the existing Pororari River Track out to Punakaiki.
“The Great Walk construction work will create jobs and inject money into the West Coast economy, through services like helicopter transport. Mitre 10 in Hokitika will also get new business in supplying timber for bridges on the Great Walk.
“The tender process is still to run for construction of four 40-50m long suspension bridges, and this is expected to be completed towards the end of this year. DOC staff will build smaller bridges on the track.
“The start of track construction is a major milestone in bringing to fruition the new Great Walk chosen by the Pike River Families’ Committee as an enduring memorial to their men that will bring lasting economic benefit to the West Coast.”