Written by Trail Fund co-founder Nessa Lynch
Photos by Jono Baddiley
A crew of 11 Welly folks (including three Trail Fund committee members) set out for the Paparoa Track on Wellington Anniversary weekend. We had been somewhat disappointed by the track not being fully open due to a major slip on the tops, but as penance the West Coast put on a stunner weekend, minimal sandflies, no crashes and only one minor mechanical.
We set out from Smoke-Ho carpark near Blackball in glorious sunshine. There was general agreement that the climb to Moonlight Tops Hut was tough – the 10km on the historic Croesus track was relentless, and the rocky and loose surface made it an all-body workout. We took a detour on our feet to Garden Gully to check out the old stamper battery and a historic hut, coming back to a weka attack on our packs!
From our lunch stop at Ces Clark Hut, the 9kms of track above the bushline became more undulating, but still with a rocky and loose surface and plenty of steep pinches to make us earn our kiwi onion dip and chips. A clear day gave us magnificent views.
The newly built Moonlight Tops Hut was a great hit, with two decks providing ample lounging and stretching space and a bike rack with million-dollar views.
There were thumbs up for the new design of DOC mattress and for the solar powered USB charger, but we weren’t so sure about the motion-activated sensor lights! Kudos also to our friendly hut warden who gave an informative talk and answered our questions about the plans for the Pike 29 track and the birdlife in the area.
The descent the next day seemed to be over too soon, with smiles all around. A few of us pedalled up the other side at Punakaiki the next day, which also had incredible views but a smoother track surface. We are all planning our next trip to ride the full track.