Video: End to End on the New 56km Backcountry Paparoa Track in New Zealand

Jan 31, 2020
by Damian Stones  

In December 2019 the Paparoa Track on the West Coast of the South Island New Zealand was officially opened. So in December last year Damian Stones, his son Zack and Damian’s old mate Zane did a roadie to ride the Paparoa Track.
Even before I rode this trail, I’m sure like a lot of people, I wanted to see this track succeed in many ways. Most significantly as a memorial to the 29 men that lost their lives in the Pike River mine on the 19th of November 2010. Secondly, the success of this trail will bring many benefits to the West Coast community as it is now firmly on the map as a backcountry riding destination (alongside the Heaphy Track, Old Ghost Road and the West Coast Wilderness Trail).

This track is the 10th ‘Great Walk’ to be built and is designed to be mountain biked as well, meaning at present this track is the only Great Walk alongside the Heaphy Track that can be ridden.

Situated in the Paparoa National Park and at 56 km long, this single track travels along the Paparoa ranges linking Blackball to Punakaiki. This trail travels through contrasting landscapes from high alpine tussock land through to luscious west coast rain forest.

Big thanks to Zane and Zack for putting time and energy into this trip and a big shout-out to all the trail builders that worked hard in difficult conditions to build this trail.

Also, I’d like to thank the sponsors, specifically Santa Cruz Bicycles N.Z for the maiden voyage of the Megatower and Shimano for all their superb components. Special thanks to Absolute Wilderness and CLIF Bar for providing energy-fuelled food.

Damian Stones Sponsors:

Santa Cruz Bicycles
My Ride Richmond
Ground Effect Clothing
Absolute Wilderness
Lazer Sport
Pro Bike Gear
Osprey Packs
Sea To Summit Gear


  • 21 1
 are we ready for backcountry riding? I don't think we have an official Backcountry-Bike-Category yet.
  • 9 0
 If anyone did try to coin the phrase backcountry bike, they would likely receive a cease and desist letter from a certain online retailer.
  • 8 0
 Don't plan on trip too soon

"The central section of the Paparoa Track, from Moonlight Tops Hut to Pororari Hut, is formally closed under the National Parks Act (1980) due to a slip. There is no public access to the track between Moonlight Tops Hut and Pororari Hut – do not attempt to walk/bike this central section"
  • 1 0
 I should be open again from march the first but it's a bit confusing because further down it reads:

"The Pike River catchment area and the Pike29 Memorial Track are closed due to track construction and mine re-entry procedures. See map of closures (PDF, 500K).

The Pike29 Memorial Track will open at a later date, once efforts to re-enter the mine have been completed and the site transferred from the Pike River Recovery Agency to DOC.

This is a long term alert.

First published on 1 May 2019. Last reviewed on 16 January 2020."

Does anybody know when this restriction will be lifted?
  • 1 0
 @tabletop84: Paparoa Tk good to go from 1st March, the closure you quote relates to the Pike Stream catchment down valley of the Paparoa Track. The long term closure includes the Pike29 Memorial Tk.
  • 11 1
 56 km singletrack, I have a boner
  • 7 7
 looks like an awesome 56km sidewalk in the mtns with views.
  • 10 1
 Yeah, I wouldn't call it "singletrack". This track, along with The Old Ghost Road and The Heaphy generally have very easy gradients, wide and well benched trail surfaces. They're also two way, and shared with walkers. Their appeal is that they offer very easy access to some amazing wilderness to all ages and abilities. Don't go there expecting to rip about, but there's heaps of proper mtb trails all over the rest of the South Island :-D
  • 1 0
 @notsofastoverfifty: Have you ridden it?
  • 1 0
 @Pennyrisk: Not all the way through yet no, because it's been closed by the slip. Why?
  • 3 1
Wow don't dis it! the track. From the east (Blackball end or smokeho carpark) is super techie largely single track and long established. Steep and real fun. If you manage to ride it all up you've done very well. It's a ripper down too. This is open all the way to the high tops. Once the full ride is open again I suspect many travelling from the west will be surprised how gnarl the last bit is! A great day trip from Blackball.
  • 3 0
 @Johnrobinsonalexandra: oh no, not dissing it. Just saying it's hardly what most would call singletrack. Yeah, we rode up from the Blackball end. Didn't think it was that techy really, it's just rocky. I'm actually wary of people thinking it's harder than it is and being dscouraged from riding it because they think it's too hard for them
  • 2 0
 May I also suggest the North Umpua Trail for anyone looking for a great singletrack experience in the PNW. 127 km in length with about a dozen segments. Not quite as remote as the western coast of the South Island but righteous all the same.
  • 1 0
 @sngltrkmnd: nice suggestion for guys from Switzerland and NZ!
  • 2 0
 @notsofastoverfifty: we did a day ride to Moonlight Tops and back b4 xmas. Ran into 7 other riders, only 2 of them made it as far as Ces Clark Hut. Getting lots of comments that first section tougher than many expected. "Easy access" overstating it a bit, still a physical ride for most but no probs for fit competent riders. Same thing happened with OGR...people getting caught up in the hype and out of their depth...
  • 5 0
 This is now on my bucket list
  • 1 0
 Mine too. Heading back to South Island in two years with a lot of riding in mind.
  • 2 0
 looks amazing ,definitely one for the list as i have always wanted to have a look at the Paparoas- a summer only ride I assume-snowed in from April to October ??
  • 3 0
 Trail Birdie? What is the level flight speed?
  • 6 0
 laden or unladen?
  • 6 0
 @the6thElement: African or European?
  • 1 0
 That's a toutouwai or South Island Robin
  • 1 0
 And don't forget a visit to the Ross Pub, some interesting characters in there
  • 2 0
 I remember visiting there a few years back, I felt like Burt Reynolds in Deliverance.
  • 2 0
 Long single track that passes through various terrain? Yes please.
  • 1 0
 Anybody knows where to rent proper trailbikes/enduros in that area? Blackball to be specific.
  • 2 0
 Your best bet would be to organise something in Christchurch, such as or

There really isn't very much of anything in Blackball, as you'll dicover (not that that's a bad thing!) :-)
  • 2 0
 Oh, just found this. A bit closer :-)
  • 1 0
 I'd love to be proven wrong, but my recollection of Blackball is that it isn't much more than what you see in the video. You *might* be able to rent something in Greymouth or Hokitika, but Christchurch or Nelson are your best options. Plenty of good stores and rental outfits in either place and loads of good riding in both cities and along the route to Blackball.
  • 2 0
 Try Paparoa Shuttles in Greymouth
  • 2 0
 Check out Off The Beaten Track in Murchison. I think he has some new bikes coming soon.
  • 1 0
 Looks amazing got to ride that
  • 1 0
 Went there last year ..... a very special place
  • 1 0
 How do you say "f*ckin' rad " in Kiwi. Oh yeah, right.... "f*ckin rad"Wink
  • 3 0
 sick as bro/cuz
mean / mean as bro/cuz
  • 1 0
 How does it compare to the Old Ghost Road?
  • 1 0
 Shorter, not quite as rough/raw (trail construction a bit of a step up) but still a physical outing and just as much eye candy scenery wise

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