Hiking the Paparoa Track in a big group

Hiking the Paparoa Track in a big group

Every year as a family we head out and take on a Great Walk together. In late 2020 the Paparoa Track Services team decided it was about time we tackled the new Paparoa Track, and here’s the exciting bit, we got 20 whanau together to take it on.

Obviously we started by taking the best shuttle service available from Punakaiki to Blackball! Then it was a yummy breakfast at Formerly the Blackball Hilton, before heading up the hill.

We piled out of the van, gathered all our gear out of the trailer then off we went. Twenty packs on backs made it up to the Ces Clark hut for lunch in slightly overcast weather but still plenty of views.

One of our team was actually a track builder on the Paparoa Track. Tim helped to construct the section of track between Ces Clark and Moonlight Tops Huts. It was tough work and the crew put in amazing effort. At times they worked in snow for seven days at a stretch to get the work done, staying in existing huts and mountain biking to site in the mornings. [Read all about it in this interview with Tim.]

Tim looking back at years living on the Paparoa Track.

After a good day of walking the crew made it to Moonlight Tops celebrating with a mug of Reefton’s finest Little Biddy Gin. A real bonus of travelling with a big group is you get the full hut to yourselves. We played games and caught up on what had been happening for everyone over the past year.

We all slept through till 9.30am, luxury trampers for sure. After breakfast we headed off at about 11am for our next destination Pororari Hut. We took our time through the goblin forest, which is a truly amazing part of the track. There wasn’t much sun which gave it a bit of a spooky feel.

We arrived at Pororari in time to spend the rest of the afternoon lounging on the deck looking across the Paparoa National Park to the Moonlight Tops Hut in the distance. Dinner was served and whoever carried the bottle of gin was a legend. The sunset left us stunned, watching the sun go down over the Tasman Sea is really something special.

Our final walk out was a beauty. We swam at the upper Pororari River bridge which was bliss. Dion made friends with an eel just before we jumped in, which added for a bit of excitement (photo below). The bush on the walk out is awesome, the temperate rainforest full of nikau blows you away.

With about 8km to go Dion blew up his stand up paddle board and cruised back to Punakaiki via the river. Epic! We made it out the standard way and celebrated with a beer at the end.

Hot tips for the Paparoa Track as part of a big group:

  • Book on the day bookings open as this track books out fast.
  • Book the whole group under one name, age and nationality so you can lock in the booking ASAP.
  • As soon as you have the booking locked in add all the names of your group and other details.
  • Book your transport with Paparoa Track Services of course.
  • Go for a swim in the Pororari River about 1.5 hours after Pororari Hut.
  • Stay with the Punakaiki Beach Camp in a holiday house, cabin or campsite the night before and after your adventure.
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