Paparoa Track

The newest Great Walk in New Zealand - a purpose built trail carved through the jagged Paparoa Mountains. Experience an incredibly wild environment with spectacular views. Enjoy modern and comfortable huts and an easy transportation service.

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Activity in brief

3-4 Days
Start - End:
Smoke-Ho - Punakaiki
Shuttle Bus

Terrain: Moderate with a long climb on the first day. Track is generally well formed and maintained, but very steep drop-offs in places

Accommodation: Designated Great Walk Huts

Nearest Town: Punakiaki

Activity Overview

Experience New Zealand's newest Great Walk – a purpose-built track within the spectacular Paparoa National Park on the West Coast of the South Island.

The trail has been carved through the Paparoa Range, an incredibly jagged and knife-edged region that has been shaped by the local weather conditions (which can be harsh). You will climb through lush native rainforest to tussocky alpine tops and limestone karst landscapes. Some of the views from the ridges are exceptional - but don't stray too close to the edge! You return to civilisation along the Pororari River Valley finishing in the village of Punakaiki.

Once completed, the Pike29 Memorial Track will lead from the Paparoa Track to the site of the former Pike River Mine.

The Paparoa Track crosses through remote and spectacular wilderness and is well marked and signposted, but some sections are steep and rough and can be challenging in poor weather. The newly built huts are modern and comfortable, while the transport from Punakaiki to the start of the track at Smoke-Ho makes life easy. 


Personalised Itineraries

Personalise your Paparoa Track Walk:

You can choose to walk the Paparoa Track over three or four days. The three day itinerary is the most popular but the 3 day option, with an extra hut stay on the track is good for people not wishing to push too hard on the first day. 

Contact us to find out more!

Include the Paparoa Track in your unique Multi-Activity Trip:

You can combine this walk with any other activity on this website to create your own unique itinerary.

When you develop your own tailor-made itinerary with us, it's fully customised with your choice of activities, accommodation and transport around New Zealand - Click here for more information about Multi-Activity Trips or Enquire Now to get started.


OR SIMPLY BOOK this trip now...
Paparoa Track Three Day Walk
  • Hut accommodation on trail included. 
  • All your transportation taken care of with shuttle bus from Punakaiki to the start of the trail at Smoke-Ho.

Day One: Smoke-Ho to Moonlight Tops Hut (20km 7-8 Hours). For the first hour of the track, you’ll pass through mixed podocarp and beech forest and cross a wire suspension bridge over the Smoke-ho Creek. The track then zig-zags up the dividing ridge between Blackball Creek and Roaring Meg catchments for the next hour until you reach the turn-off to the Battery Track.
The track then climbs more steeply into subalpine forest leading towards Ces Clark Hut.
From there you follow the ridge of the main Paparoa Range through open alpine vegetation above the Roaring Meg and Moonlight Creek catchments, with views of Aoraki/Mt Cook on a clear day.
Moonlight Tops Hut has panoramic views across the Punakaiki River headwaters around to the escarpment, Pike Stream and Paparoa National Park.

Day Two: Moonlight Tops Hut to Pororari Hut (19km 5-7 Hours). Today the track winds along the top of the escarpment, with steep cliffs and stunning views. About half-way to Pororari Hut, you descend from the escarpment through ancient podocarp forest. The track then follows the ridge above Tindale Creek to Pororari Hut. Keep an eye out for the Lone Hand, a gnarled outcrop of rock on the north side of the Pororari River.

Day Three: Pororari Hut to Pororari River Car Park (Punakaiki) (16km 4-5 Hours). The track descends into the upper Pororari River valley and follows the river. In some places it follows an old track which was built c1912–1914 to establish a settlement in the valley. The track sidles along a spectacular gorge and descends through beech forest interspersed with northern rātā.

Pricing: Paparoa Track Three Day Walk

From NZD$180 per person. Includes 2 nights hut accommodation on the track and transportation from Punakaiki to the start.

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Activity Planning

When to go

Weather in Paparoa National Park is changeable with annual rainfall averaging around 6,000 mm (235 inches). Heavy rain, snow, ice, fog and strong winds are possible at all times of the year, especially on the exposed sections of the track. You must be well equipped and prepared for all weather conditions and carry warm and waterproof clothing.

What to bring

Wet weather gear

Stout boots


Water bottle


Insect repellant, long sleeved shirts and trousers (to combat sand flies)

First-aid kit


Communication device

Sleeping bag

All your food, plates, bowls, utensils etc.

Accommodation on the trail



Your accommodation for this walk will be in the excellent Department of Conservation Great Walk Huts along the track, some of which are brand new. They feature flush toilets, gas stoves, fresh water, mattresses, tables, benches and heating.

For more information about backcountry huts in New Zealand please checkout our accommodation guide here.


Accommodation on the West Coast

We can organise your accommodation in Punakaiki, or other parts of the West Coast, for before and after your walk if you wish. Please let us know what sort of accommodation you are looking for when you make your booking for this activity, and we can discuss the options with you.

Shuttle Bus

Shuttles depart Punakaiki at 8am for the start of the track at Smoke-Ho, with a journey time of approximately an hour. You can park your vehicle securely at the shuttle base while you are on the trail.

Route Map
Get in touch

For more information about us or our services contact us on
+ 64 3 390 1584
or email us at [email protected]

Enquire Now