Enjoy of story of the John whanau (Mum, Dad, 15 year old boy and a 13 year old girl) riding the Paparoa Trail over 2 days – on the Westcoast of the South Island New Zealand

Supporting you and your family to SMILE when you ride.

When we make the effort and take the time to go on a biking adventure with the family we want it to be an enjoyable experience. To help plan your adventure read about the John whanau experience riding the 56.2km Paparoa Track in December 2020…

The Paparoa Track is part of the Department of Conservation  (DoC). It is a purpose built shared use hiking and mountain biking track so you can ride this trail all year round. See more information here and view the associated brochure 

Where is it and how to get there?

The Paparoa Track is located within the Paparoa National Park. You ride from Smoke-Ho carpark (8km north of Blackball) to Punakaiki on the West Coast of the South Island.  You can ride it in either direction but it is most commonly ridden from Smoke-Ho through to Punakaiki.

We stayed the night prior to starting our ride at the Punakaiki Beach Camp. There is a range of accommodation available and they offer Paparoa Track transport options to get you to Smoke-Ho carpark or have your car relocated back to Punakaiki from Smoke Ho. 

The ride and is it doable for you?

The Paparoa Track is 56.2km in length. It is suggested that you complete this over a 2 day journey. There are many that have completed it in a day… not something you would want to tackle with a family and you would definitely want a good weather day for your one day ride.

We have chosen to do it over a 2 day journey. With multiple hut options along the track this could easily be ridden over 3 days. Remember you need to carry your own food, so the longer it takes you the more food you will need. Check out the facilities at the huts so you know what you need to carry. (Note: there are no pots/utensils at the huts so you will need to carry these)

DAY ONE – Smoke-Ho Carpark to Moonlight Tops Hut = 20km – is it doable?

This is an uphill ride to Ces Clark Hut, approximately 10km from Smoke-Ho carpark, before it levels out along the tops to Moonlight Hut. Up to Ces Clark Hut is the roughest part of the whole track and our whanau found that we were on and off our bikes quite regularly.  This made it slow going. It took us about 3 hours to cover the 10km to Ces Clark Hut… so you may need to plan for this.

Accommodation – Moonlight Hut. There is a lot of demand on Moonlight Tops hut. There is an option to stay at Ces Clark Hut. This would have definitely been achievable for our whanau. We found our speed greatly increased once we got past Ces Clark Hut. Hence we would have been comfortable riding from Ces Clark to the track end at Punakaiki in a day. It would have been a long day but very achievable. 

DAY TWO – Moonlight Tops Hut to track end = 39.6km is it doable?

You travel across the tops before starting to descend to Pororari Hut (19.1km). From this hut you have a fantastic descend to track end – other than the little hill you need to get over right before the end of the track (there just to remind you that you have tired legs)!

What skills will you need to do this ride? This track is graded as an advanced grade 4 track. There are rough and rocky parts to ride. As well as narrow and exposed track. Some steep and some long climbs. As a family we definitely found the ride to Ces Clark the roughest with lots of rock and we walked our bikes quite regularly on this section. From there the track was good but you do need to be comfortable going up and down some steep sections and comfortable with narrow tracks, heights and exposure.

What level of fitness will you need to do this ride? You will need moderate to advanced levels of fitness. Whatever direction you start in you will have a sustained uphill section that is a good rideable gradient. When you are on the tops there is also short up and downhill sections to negotiate. Consider the distances you are travelling and how long that will take you each day. Make sure you have ridden for that length of time with some load prior to riding the Paparoa. .

How could the weather effect the success of your journey?  Expect the weather to play a part in your biking journey when you ride the Paparoa Track. You are on the West Coast of New Zealand and thus likely to experience rain and you are in the backcountry so you need to be prepared for all types of weather.

Be safe and comfortable when riding the Paparoa Track

This is a back country trail ridden over a couple of days so we needed to be prepared with the right gear, a mountain bike that had been checked and serviced. Use our stories for multiday mountain biking to help support you to be prepared to ride the Paparoa.  

Our comfort and safety tips for the Paparoa
  •  The Paparoa Track is a back counrty track so you need to be prepared for all types of weather conditions. You are likely to encounter wet and cold conditions at any time of the year.
  • You are going to be riding on undulating terrain with many obstacles, so mountain bikes are ideal. Our whanau had three full suspension mountain bikes and one with front suspension only.
  • You will be on the bike for a number of hours each day, for consecutive days.  The surface is bumpy, being comfortable on the bike is a MUST. Make sure you are comfortable on your bike seat, at your handlebars and on the pedals.
  • You need to carry pots and utensils with you…there are none in the huts.

Gear set up – Jo (Female adult)/Sam (15yr old boy)

Thule Carrier with dry bag and tie downs – pot, food and spare clothes

Backpack and hydration reservoir (Camelbak low rider 10L) – warm top, snacks, water

Frame bag or Seat bag – tools and spare tubes

Dry bag – tie downs used to attach to handlebars – sleeping bag, jacket

Gear set up – Nic (Male adult)

Handlebar Bag containing lightweight gear – sleeping bag and clothes

Touring seat post bag containing heavier items – food

Backpack – with emergency gear – First Aid Kit, PLB (Personal Locator Beacon), toilet paper

Drink bottle cage – drink bottle with water

Gear on bikes- ready to ride.

Enjoy the experience and have fun

There were many highlights enjoyed along the way. We had a lot of cloud on the tops but the weather cleared about an hour before it got dark at Moonlight Tops highlighting the spectacular landscape and views. We felt privledged as we watched the sun set over the Tasman Sea. The ride down from Pororari Hut was just pure fun and rewarding after the climbing. The exposed track and the rock formations were a neat experience.

There is certainly lots to do around the Paparoa Track in the Westcoast region… you pass through Blackball famous for Blackball Salami so worth a stop… staying in Punakaiki is a highlight and visiting the Pancake Rocks. The track is positioned closest to the town of Greymouth.

Sunset from Moonlight Tops.

Hollie on the top… a good view of the track.

End of the Paparoa… Punakaiki.

Your bike riding success is different to others… use our stories and support, get the right solutions.

Support and inspire other riders and families to ride

Share your riding outings, adventures and experiences on our quick and easy question and answer forms. Join us in helping others ride bikes. All entries receive a free shipping coupon and go into our seasonal prize draw.

goRide supporting women and families to SMILE when you ride

Smile when you ride

Be Comfortable on your Bike Seat

Riding in Cooler Weather

Riding in Wet Conditions

Be Visible on the Bike

'Fun Up' the Kids Bike/Biking

Clothing & Bags

Padded Bike Pants & Underwear

Bike Tops and Jackets

Headbands & Neck Warmers for Biking

Bags, Baskets & Panniers for Biking

Rider Safety & Protection

Bike Helmets

Mountain Bike Helmets

Bike Gloves

Bike Lights

Bike Bells

First Aid & Personal Care

Hydration

Bike Tow Ropes

Bike Parts & Care

Bike Saddles

Handlebar Grips

Bike Locks

Bike Carriers

Bike & Chain Cleaning

Bike Tools & Tool Kits to Carry

Kids Bike Seats & Bikes

Full Range Kids Bike Seats - Attached or Towed

Rear Kids Bike Seats

Mid Kids Bike Seats

Front Kids Bike Seats

Towing Kids who ride their own Bike

Bike Trailers for Kids

Kids Balance Bikes

goUnders

Buying Guides

Ride more places

NZ Made

Solution Finder

Kids & Youth

Padded Bike Underwear

Bike Helmets

Mountain Bike Helmets

Riding Clothing

Jackets for Biking/Outdoors

Protective Padding

Bike Gloves

Bike Bells

Handlebar Grips

Bike Locks

Hydration

Women

Padded Bike Pants & Underwear

Bike Saddles

Bike Helmets

Mountain Bike Helmets

Bike Tops & Jackets

Bike Gloves

Bike Bells

Hydration

Handlebar Grips

Family 

Riding with - 1 year old

Riding with - 2 year old

Riding with - 3 year old

Riding with - 4/5 year old

Riding with - 6+ year old

Ride More Places with Kids

Full Range Kids Bike Seats - Attached or Towed

Men

Bike Helmets

Mountain Bike Helmets

Bike Saddle

Bike Gloves

Handlebar Grips

Bike Bell

Smile when you ride

Be Comfortable on your Bike Seat

Riding in Cooler Weather

Riding in Wet Conditions

Be Visible on the Bike

'Fun Up' the Kids Bike/Biking

goUnders

Buying Guides

Ride more places

NZ Made

Solution Finder

Bikepath Riding

Beginner to Fitness

Commuting

Multiday

Multiday with Kids

Kids Attached or Towed on Bikepaths

Grow & Improve your Bikepath Riding

Ride more Bikepaths

Mountain Biking

Women Beginner to Intermediate

Kids Mountain Biking

Mountain Biking with Kids Attached or Towed

Ride more Mountain Bike Trails

Riding in Traffic

Kids Attached or Towed in Traffic

Family Riding

Multiday Bikepath Riding with Kids

Kids Mountain Biking

Ride More Places with Kids

Full Range Kids Bike Seats - Attached or Towed

E-biking

Successfully Ride an E-Bike

goUnders

Buying Guides

Ride more places

NZ Made

Solution Finder

Kids Attached or Towed Buying Guides

Rear Kids Bike Seat

Mid Mount Kids Bike Seat

Front Kids Bike Seat 

Towing Kids who ride their own bikes

Kids Bike Trailers

Kids & Youth Buying Guides

Kids Bike Helmets

Kids Riding Clothing

Kids Padded Bike Pants

Kids Padded Protection

Kids Handlebar Grips 

Kids Balance Bike

Comfort on the Bike Buying Guides 

Bike Saddle

Padded Bike Pants

Bike Jackets

Carrying Gear 

Handlebar Grip

Hydration

Rider Safety and Protection Buying Guides

Bike Helmet

Mountain Bike Helmet

Be Visible 

Bike Glove

Bike Light 

Mountain Bike Light

First Aid & Personal Care 

Gear & Care for Bikes Buying Guides

Bike Carriers

Bike Cleaning

Chain Cleaning and Lube

Women & Families Learning

Comfort on your Bike Seat

Improve your Riding

Carrying Gear

Ride More Places

Ride more Bikepaths

Ride more NZ Cycle Trails

Ride more Mountain Bike Trails

Ride more Places with Kids

Riding Gear

Bike Helmets

Padded Bike Underwear & Pants

Bike Gloves

Bike Jackets

Bike Locks

Bike Tools to Carry

Handlebar Grips

Kids Bike Seats

Front Kids Bike Seats

Mid Mount Kids Bike Seats

Rear Kids Bike Seats

Kids Bike Seats - Attached

Types of Riding

Bikepath Riding