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Paparoa National Park
Paparoa National Park

Paparoa National Park, things to do — trip guide & tips

Paparoa is a primeal forest where you feel as though a dinosaur could appear around the next corner. Luxuriant foliage interspersed with gems such as flowering rata (spring) make for a magical walk through a primevail forest setting.

Paparoa National Park, New Zealand @Milli Parklar

Getting there

State Highway 6 45 km from Greymouth.

Weather

Paparoa National Park Forecasts and Observations

Check at the visitor centre for up-to-date information on weather and track conditions.

Best time to visit

Spring to Autumn.

Highlights

  • Participating in one of New Zealand’s designated Great Walks
  • Kayaking the Pororari River
  • Paddle boarding the Pororari River
  • Horse riding on the beach
  • Extraordinary landscapes of towering limestone cliffs, nikau palms and tree ferns
  • Active adventures caving and black water rafting
  • Petrel bird watching

TOP FIVE THINGS TO DO AROUND PAPAROA NATIONAL PARK

1
RIVER KAYAKING

The river is a wide slowly moving clear bronzed glimmer where kayaks float among the lush vegetation that fringes the river. Idyllic holidays that involve slowly padding your way down a spectacular river landscape definitely make walking look overrated. Although are several vantage points where you can feel quite smug about your choice to explore the park in a kakak. Check out the gallery and get inspired for your next holiday Punakaiki Canoes – River Kayaking in Paparoa National Park, West Coast, New Zealand.

2
HORSE TREKKING

Enterprising locals have rented a shed, at the other end of the beach from the hotel offering half and full day horse treks.The main route they take is up the Punakaiki River, which is the first bridge you cross coming into town from the south. The thrill of feeling like a nineteenth century explorer in the wild meet west coast was definitely on the faces of the participants.

3
UNDERWORLD RAFTING

Awesome Active holiday activities must include underworld rafting. A highlight is floating on your back through a caven of glow worms on your own raft. The best bit is the caverns are not open to the public. Age is not a barrier, jump in and nobody will regret the experience. As with any supervised guided activity it is not cheap however it is awesome fun.

4
NILE RAINFOREST TRAIN

A 1 ½ hour journey on a customised open train exploring the forest environment. You are journeying on a bush train, similar to the nineteenth century. Transported past water sculptured limestone canyons on the Nile River. A great way to get an immersive forest experience and suitable for all age groups regardless of fitness levels.

5
NATURE TOURS

Nature tours with a specialised guide is a must do for bird lovers within lush sub-tropical rainforest near Punakaiki on the West Coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Paparoa Nature Tours private wildlife sanctuary and petrel viewing facility features the largest mainland burrow-nesting petrel, the Westland Petrel (Procellaria westlandica) on its only breeding grounds. There are guided tours to the forest to explore the environment. Passionate guides are the petrels advocates as you access the viewing shelter via a mixture of unformed track, walkway and boardwalk. The shelter is within easy walking distance, but a level of fitness that can cope with the presence of stairways is required. Fitting into the petrels daily routines there are tours at sunrise and sunset. Tours with a passion and purpose makes this activity eco-friendly. About Paparoa Nature Tours – Discover a Rare Wildlife Spectacular – Established in 1987 by Denise Howard & Bruce Stuart-Menteath on New Zealands West Coast.

PAPOROA NATIONAL PARK: ACTIVITIES

Walks

Truman Track

Paparoa National Park 7871, New Zealand

Punakaiki Pancake Rocks and Blowholes Walk

Coast Road, Punakaiki 4300, New Zealand

Punakaiki Cavern

4300 State Highway 6, Punakaiki 7873, New Zealand

Cave Creek/Kotihotiho Track

Paparoa National Park 7871, New Zealand

Pororari River tracks

4300 State Highway 6, Punakaiki 7873, New Zealand

Inland Pack Track

Paparoa National Park 7871, New Zealand

Ballroom Overhang Track

Greymouth, New Zealand

Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track

5 Owen Street, Punakaiki 7873, New Zealand

Pororari Hut Track

Paparoa National Park 7871, New Zealand

Hunting

This area covers the western side of the Paparoa Ranges from Fox River south to Canoe Creek. There are numerous access points into this area. Access up the Fox River is along a track that starts at the Fox River carpark. This track also links with the inland pack track that runs south to the Pororari and Punakaiki Rivers and back to SH6. Upstream of the Ballroom camping area travel is in the river bed. Spur and ridge travel is reasonable on the ranges but travel through the karst landscapes is difficult and often dangerous.

There is road access up Bullock Creek to a gate at the entrance to the old farm and junction with the inland pack track. A walking track from the upper end (true right) of the open paddocks leads up a steep ridge to Mt Bovis and provides access to the Paparoa tops.

A walking track up the Pororari River links with the inland pack track. Hunters can carry on up the Pororari River along a poorly marked route on the true right of the river into the upper valley.

Access up the Punakaiki River is directly up the river bed to the first gorge (1 hour) where a short section of track on the true right leads to open river bed travel that continues to the head of the river. Access up Canoe Creek is via the creek bed from SH6.

The limestone karst landforms around Paparoa contain many sinkholes (tomo) and care should be taken when travelling through these areas.

Landholders

There is private land in the lower Punakaiki Valley.
The other main access points do not cross private land.

Maps

Topo50 maps BT19, BT20, BS19, BS20.

Dogs

This area is mostly in a national park and dogs are not permitted. In other areas dogs are prohibited except where authorisation has been granted by DOC. People wishing to take a dog into this area should seek authorisation from the local DOC office.

Huts

There are no huts in this area. The Ballroom overhang up the Fox River provides sheltered camping.

Hunting

Red deer, goats and occasionally pigs can be found throughout the area at any time of the year. Chamois are present but uncommon on the Paparoa Range. Possums are controlled by DOC and the AHB throughout most of the area.

Additional information

Hunters are advised to check for current pesticide operations that may be in progress where they intend to hunt.

The use of shotguns, shotgun-rifle combos, .22 calibre and rim-fire firearms is prohibited on public conservation land unless stated otherwise.

Stay in a hut

Buckland Peak Hut

West Coast 7892, New Zealand

Moonlight Tops Hut

Paparoa National Park 7873, New Zealand

Pororari Hut

Paparoa National Park 7873, New Zealand

Mountain biking

Pororari Hut Track

Paparoa National Park 7871, New Zealand

Paparoa Track and Pike29 Memorial Track

5 Owen Street, Punakaiki 7873, New Zealand

Other Activities

  • Caving: Paparoa National Park offers caving for beginners and experienced cavers. The Punakaiki Cavern, right beside SH6, is a safe introduction to a cave environment; all you need is a torch and good footwear. Other cave systems within the park, like the Metro/Te Ananui require special entry permits and are accessible to the public only by guided parties. Contact the visitor centre for more details.
  • Kiwi Guardians programme: Take your family on a Kiwi Guardians adventure. Kiwi Guardians is a free, fun and easy way for 6-10 year olds to get to know this special place – grab a map, go and explore, and earn a reward! More about Kiwi Guardians.

Commercial Operators

The village of Punakaiki accommodation ranges from B&B to luxury seaview villas. There are a number of AirBNB rentals in the area. There are no DOC huts in the park. Hikers walking the Inland Pack Track deposit their tents at the Ballroom overhang campsite.

Recommended in the Punakaiki Beach Camping grounds due to their proximity to everything. It is absolute beachside viewing at its best. There is a range of accommodation options within the camp and, best of all the camp operators have developed a visitor ethos of expanding their services to include logistics and booking for any part activities. A one stop shop approach taking the headache out of activities.

GUIDED ACTIVITIES AND TOURS

Exclusive Tourism Services Ltd

Guided Walking and four wheel driving expeditions around the South Island.

Activities: Four wheel driving; Walking and tramping

Services: Guided activities and tours


Limousine South NZ Limited

Conforming tracks for multiple locations in the South Island.

Activities: Walking and tramping

Services: Guided activities and tours


Active Adventures

Guided, small group hiking tours travelling between national parks for overnight and 2-night hikes. Trip may also include soaking in hotpools, mountain biking, kayaking and caving.

Activities: Caving; Kayaking and canoeing; Mountain biking; Walking and tramping

Services: Transport; Guided activities and tours


Flying Kiwi Wilderness Expeditions

Guided activities as part of adventure tours in the North and South Islands.

Activities: Kayaking and canoeing; Mountain biking; Skiing and ski touring

Services: Guided activities and tours


New Zealand International Travel Limited

Guiding short walks on the West Coast, Canterbury, Otago and Fiordland.

Activities: Walking and tramping

Services: Guided activities and tours


Adventure South

Guided mountain biking and walking across New Zealand.

Activities: Mountain biking

Services: Transport; Guided activities and tours


Tuatara Tours NZ

Guided walking and cycling as part of tours within New Zealand.

Activities: Mountain biking

Services: Guided activities and tours


Opulence Tours Ltd

Private guided tours around the South island.

Activities: Walking and tramping

Services: Guided activities and tours


Wildsouth Discovery Limited

Guided walking and nature interpretation at multiple locations throughout the South Island.

Activities: Walking and tramping

Services: Guided activities and tours


The Real New Zealand Limited

Guided multi-day tours around New Zealand.

Activities: Walking and tramping

Services: Guided activities and tours


Mercury Travel Group Limited: Concessionaires

Guided Walking at selected tracks nationwide.

Activities: Walking and tramping

Services: Guided activities and tours


Jay Tours

Guided walks in Aoraki Mount Cook, Kawarau Bridge, Arthur’s Pass and the Paparoa, Westland, Mount Aspiring and Fiordland national parks.

Services: Guided activities and tours


The Road Trip

Short guided walks in the South Island.

Services: Guided activities and tours


CJ & M J Holiday Limited

Guided walks in the West Coast, Canterbury, Fiordland and Otago

Activities: Walking and tramping

Services: Guided activities and tours

TRANSPORT

Active Adventures

Guided, small group hiking tours travelling between national parks for overnight and 2-night hikes. Trip may also include soaking in hotpools, mountain biking, kayaking and caving.

Activities: Caving; Kayaking and canoeing; Mountain biking; Walking and tramping

Services: Transport; Guided activities and tours


EasyHike Ltd

Car relocation and shuttle services for hikers on the Milford, Routeburn, Kepler, Rees-Dart and Greenstone Caples tracks. Car relocation uses a secure lockbox system. Drive to the track and secure your keys using a supplied lockbox.

Services: Transport


Adventure South

Guided mountain biking and walking across New Zealand.

Activities: Mountain biking

Services: Transport; Guided activities and tours

Stay

The village of Punakaiki accommodation ranges from B&B to luxury seaview villas. There are a number of AirBNB rentals in the area. There are no DOC huts in the park. Hikers walking the Inland Pack Track deposit their tents at the Ballroom overhang campsite.

Recommended in the Punakaiki Beach Camping grounds due to their proximity to everything. It is absolute beachside viewing at its best. There is a range of accommodation options within the camp and, best of all the camp operators have developed a visitor ethos of expanding their services to include logistics and booking for any part activities. A one stop shop approach taking the headache out of activities.

This is West Coast hospitality at its best. Cabins, chalets nestled into forest settings, powered and non-powered sites. Powered and non-powered sites at the Punakaiki Beach Camp are surrounded by native bush and have incredible views of the impressive limestone cliffs which look down on the camp. With less than a minute’s walk down to the beach, camping at the Punakaiki Beach Camp means you are centrally located. All sites include hot showers and use of kitchen facilities. The icing on the cake is logistics the Punakaiki Beach Camp are a dab hand at organising multi-day treks, half day guided hikes to kakak guided canoeing down the Paparoa River.

Click About Paparoa Great Walk for details and to book accommodation click on the link, Punakaiki Beach Camp: Home. Forward bookings are essential in the peak season (Summer).

Travel Pack Information

Whanganui River is worth the journey.

Photo Gallery

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