It is with a slight annoyance that the full Paparoa Track Opening has again been delayed. DOC have found the slip has worsened and a digger has fell down with it, creating havock for the crew up on the mountain.
For us here in Punakaiki it means our Van and Trailer will have to wait before taking excited hikers and bikers to Smoke-ho carpark to start the track! Some people have decided to walk up to Moonlight Hut and come down the Croesus Track finishing at Barrytown. This is a great alternative and the track is still magnificent (although not quite Great Walk standard).
Paparoa Track driver Jed walked the Smoke-Ho – Moonlight – Barrytown route this week. Here is his trip report.
Day one. Smoke-ho to Moonlight Tops Hut
This week I took the most of not having any bookings to get up on the Paparoa Track. I must say I have been talking a lot about the track and how amazing it is. To be up there on the track, I have not been talking up the track enough!
Of course the Paparoa Track bus dropped me off at Smoke-Ho carpark. We left Punakaiki at 8am as with our normal time for bookings. We arrived at the Trail head at 9:20am. I am very happy with this timing as allows plenty of time to get to the Moonlight Tops Hut.
The walk up to the Ces Clark hut is amazing. You walk through so many different forest types, past historic huts, mining equipment and old hotel sites.
They sure put in some effort those gold miners to build this track. Bench track takes you up to the Moonlight tops. Although climbing, the angle of the track never gets really steep, making for a relaxing asent.
Once on the tops and past the Ces Clark hut its time to join onto the new track built by the hardy track builders of the last two years. It really is an amazing effort the track builders have put in to create such an amazing track.
By the time we reached the tops the cloud has come in, and we let our imagination (and instagram photos) help us with the possible views behind the clouds.
Upon reaching the Moonlight tops hut a group had already started the fire and had the kettle on. Hot drinks and a warm hut was very welcoming. Hut warden Sierra filled us in on information on the track and surrounding area. We spent the night sharing stories and listening to the wind and rain beating down.
Day two. Moonlight tops to Barrytown
Note: The track down to Barrytown is not a “Great Walk” and is a standard DOC tramping track, reccommended for trampers.
On a day forecast for rain all day we didn’t get a single drop! Weather forecast are like that most the time. We backtracked about 45 minutes to the Barrytown/ Blackball turn off.
After leaving the Paparoa Track the Croesus track continues along the tops for about 30 minutes before going down into the most amazing goblin forest, moss growing on every tree and mist giving it a spooky feeling.
As we got closer to Barrytown the sun started to show itself and the bench track eventually returned! Sea views started to pop up and so did the Barrytown Pub for a much deserved burger and wine!
The full Paparoa Track will open on March 1 until then the Blackball to Barrytown Via Moonlight Tops hut is a great option for people still wanting to explore the track this summer. Paparoa Track Services run a daily service to Smoke-ho car park and are happy to pick up at the Barrytown end on demand. Note: the Barrytown side is best for people with tramping experience.