For outstanding views of Golden Bay this full day tramp cannot be beaten. The tough 1200m climb rewards trampers with amazing birdlife and beautiful flora.
The Parapara Peak Track was originally a stock-track, used to drive sheep into the big alpine basin around Boulder Lake. It’s quite a journey and would have been an incredible feat of stockmanship.
Cross the Pariwhakaoho River on a series of stepping stones (if the river is running low). A farm 4WD track then skirts cow paddocks to the edge of the national park where the bush is entered. The mining track starts here and climbs gradually to Copperstain Creek.
The trail crosses this steep and rocky creek a few times before zigzagging onto the main ridge.
Expanding views are glimpsed from this long, curving ridge to the 897m crest under the shade of a towering beech and rātā forest but care is needed on a particularly steep push just before Pt897. Here, a sign marks the trail’s halfway point. It’s a good idea to check your time. DOC says the entire route can be done in 10-hours, but a fit party should be able to do the return trip in under eight. If you’re going slower than this, it might be worth considering turning back.
The grade relaxes for a bit then a long steep section marches straight up to a sculpture garden of marble outcrops. Stunted mountain beech, tall wild dracophyllum and telegraph-straight mountain cedar grow here. The ground cover is in all shades of green; ferns, mosses, and tiny blue toadstools abound.
After leaving the dwarf forest at around the 1100m contour, the track climbs on loose rock though alpine scrub and onto the ridge top. To the north, a worn trail leads to the Parapara Peak trig and going south is an unmarked track leading to a locked bivouac set amongst long snow grass.
From the summit trig, the whole of Golden Bay and most of Kahurangi National Park can be viewed and with a pair of binoculars, the details of Farewell Spit and the east coast of the North Island can be seen.
The descent can be far harder than the climb up, especially with tired legs. The slippery roots need respect. A few pockets of black beech present a wasp haven in the warmer months.
- 18.6km return
- Total Ascent
- Moderate / Difficult
- From the end of Ward Holmes Road, 12km north-west of Takaka