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Moving Mountains

09 November 2021

Video: Ross Mackay/Kona Bikes
Photos & Words: Caleb Smith/Kona Bikes

The now not-so-new Paparoa Track on the South Island’s West Coast is on most bikers’ hit list. This beautifully shot video from Kona Bicycles captures the mood and detail of the iconic ride from Blackball to Punakaiki - including the inevitable wet conditions. Ground Effect rain jackets kept the crew dry and upbeat.

The 56.2km (32.5 mile) Paparoa Track is Aotearoa New Zealand’s latest mixed-use backcountry ride. It joins the already extremely popular Heaphy Track and Old Ghost Road as prime bikepacking trip destinations. Its point-to-point route is what bikepacking dreams are made of: the perfect gradients, insane views, epically-located backcountry huts, and some of the most beautiful bush New Zealand has to offer. The track crosses the Paparoa Range, taking riders through alpine peaks, limestone karst landscapes, and thriving rainforests. While it can be ridden in a day, the route is dotted with three backcountry Department of Conservation (DOC) huts to encourage people to take in an overnight or multi-day experience. Each hut provides track users with bunk beds and mattresses, running water and gas cookers. Track users need to carry all their own food, sleeping bags and clothing—especially wet weather gear. The Paparoa range is situated on New Zealand’s West Coast where it rains 195 days a year on average, with 3,000 mm (118 inches) of rainfall annually.

The Paparoa Track and the rugged West Coast of Aotearoa New Zealand seemed like the perfect fit for the Kona Unit X.

Khulan Tumen and Viet Tieu avoiding the inevitable...

Essentials packed and stored appropriately, tick.

The West Coast's mining history is always front of mind.

Khulan and Viet on a roll.

Paparoa tops.

Viet and Khulan on cheese platter prep.

Pororari Hut glowing in the last of the light.

A postcard perfect sunset.

Bikepacking goodness.

Bike friendly swing bridges.

Flow trail all the way to the finish.

Exit left, Punakaiki.