Businesses geared up for visitor boom from Paparoa Track
The opening of New Zealand’s newest great walk, the Paparoa Track, is also opening new opportunities for West Coast businesses. Local entrepreneurs have been gearing up to take advantage of the expected influx of visitors, walkers and mountain-bikers coming to the Coast for the new track.
The $12 million Department of Conservation (DOC) track spans 55 kilometres of pristine wilderness in the Paparoa mountain range, linking the villages of Blackball and Punakaiki.
The track is already generating significant media interest, both nationally and internationally. The New York Times has ranked the Paparoa Track number 17 on its list of 52 places in the world to visit this year. To help maintain this interest, Development West Coast’s (DWC) tourism team has been busy hosting media familiarisation tours of the track in collaboration with DOC, Tourism New Zealand and Air New Zealand.
The much-anticipated Paparoa Track will be New Zealand’s first new great walk in over 25 years and is expected to bring large numbers of hikers and mountain-bikers to the region. This interest is reflected in pre-bookings for the track. Close to 80 per cent of bed nights at the track’s huts have already been booked for the year.
The Punakaiki Beach Camp, located at the end of the track in the Paparoa National Park, is one of the many local businesses expecting to benefit from the opening of the new Great Walk.
The Findlay family took over the lease of the Punakaiki Beach Camp six years ago and has not looked back.
“Our focus is on getting people to stay longer and see more of Punakaiki than just the rocks. With the Paparoa Track opening we expect to see more New Zealanders coming to stay with us,” says camp manager Jed Findlay.
Jed and his family have walked six of New Zealand’s Great Walks.
“When organising logistics for a Great Walk we found it was always difficult to find a place where we could instantly book all the things you need besides the hut tickets – things like transport to the start of the track, accommodation, car parking and gear transfers.”
To help meet this need, the Findlays have developed Paparoa Track Services and now run a daily shuttle to Blackball for walkers to start the track.
“They will stay the night before, park their cars in the campsite and jump in the shuttle to start the walk. After three days they will stay again for a much-needed rest.
“DWC have been an amazing helping hand in our developments. They have worked with us through marketing courses, an accountancy course and general advice. All of these were great, but we needed our product to be amazing to match our newly learned marketing skills.
“We realised that we needed more roofed accommodation to host the excited and finally tired walkers.
“DWC have also helped us with commercial finance giving us the opportunity to install eight new cabins alongside the beautiful Pororari River. These will be very popular.
“At the Punakaiki Beach Camp we are very excited about the future in Punakaiki, Buller and the West Coast. New activities such as the Paparoa Track, Kawatiri Trail, Old Ghost Road and the Wilderness Trail will bring a fresh look on life on the West Coast and we can't wait to be part of it!”