Relatively unknown, the Paringa Track is a prime example of pure NZ "backcountry tramping”. Located on the wild west coast of the South Island, the Paringa Track is steeped with history. Mobs of stock moved through this track in the 1940s, moving cattle from the West Coast to sale yards held a good 2 weeks journey inland.
Reopened in the 1980s as a historic walking track, the Paringa Track allows you to experience rugged New Zealand landscapes first hand and offers a sense of backcountry adventure not found on the more popular “Great Walks”
Previous walking experience is not necessary, however reasonable fitness is required as the track in parts is effected by slips, and you need to negotiate obstacles and rough ground on some parts. As there are several stream crossings, wet feet will be unavoidable! Clients should therefore have good solid walking boots and enjoy a reasonable degree of challenge.
DAY 1 -
Queenstown to start of Paringa Track
We start in Queenstown early in the morning and drive to the beginning of the track which is just north of Haast. We walk to Blowfly Hut (approx. 1.5hrs) and have lunch there. After lunch we carry onto Maori Saddle Hut where we stay for the night. This is a gradual climb through ferns and rimu, which leads on to predominately beech forest, as we gain altitude. The track crosses 5 streams and takes approximately 5-6 hours from Blowfly Hut to reach Maori Saddle Hut.
From Maori Saddle Hut there is a side trip to Lake Law, which offers a great way to wash off the day’s exertions!
DAY 2 -
Prepare for the true backcountry as today there are 15 or so stream crossings. This is the hardest day of walking despite it being downhill most of the day. A geological highlight appears in the form of the main divide fault line, which creates a discernable section of bluffs. Although appearing intimidating from a distance, the track doesn’t actually cross the bluffs, but veers off to an open area which makes for a perfect lunch spot (with great views and the odd kea fossicking if we are lucky!)
After lunch we carry on to the Coppermine Hut where we will stay the night. The gradient flattens out and the walking becomes easier. Approx. walking time of 7-9 hours.
DAY 3 -
Paringa Track to Queenstown
The last day of the track is relatively easy walking, along the flats of the Waita River. It is only about a 2 hour walk to the road, where we will get picked up by bus, and taken back to Queenstown - perhaps with a well-deserved beer at the Haast pub along the way!
Environmental Issues on the Paringa Track -
Many of New Zealand's endangered bird species are threatened by predators. Clients who walk the Paringa Track are contributing in a small but significant way to supporting the whio (blue duck) and the mohua (yellowhead).
Photos courtesy Kiwi Discovery
Tel: +64 27 201 0470
NZ local time is 11:52 PM
Location: West coast of the South Island
Track open: November to March
Trek dates: Depart Tuesdays during season
Duration: 3 days and 3 nights
Kilometres: 24 kilometres
Group size: Small group
Grade: Track may be rough, several stream crossings
Accommodation: Bunk accommodation in huts
Luggage: Need to carry day packs plus sleeping mats.
Meals: All meals on track provided