everything you need to know about Paparoa logistics

I haven’t even ridden the Paparoa yet, so full disclosure this photo is from the Old Ghost Rd. In fact the trail hasn’t even opened ( planned to open December 2019 and a slip has just delayed the opening ) but I thought I would share how we plan to do logistics of getting to the West Coast of the South Island from Auckland with our bikes and a few of our mates ( 6 plus me and my husband makes a group of 8 because when you are organising a mountain bike adventure everyone wants in ).

We are flying into Christchurch – we generally try and not all fly on the same flight after we were told once when we were flying in a group that all of our bike boxes couldn’t fit on one flight. That time our group ended up diverted and our bike boxes actually made it back to Auckland before us but it could have made for some annoying logistics if they didn’t. 

Once we arrive in Christchurch ( hopefully with all of our bikes arriving at the same time as us ) we spent a bit of time figuring out the best way to get to the South Island. Here is what we investigated;

  • Being shuttled over.
  • Flying over.
  • Catching trans alpine express ( yes we have a train enthusiast in the house )
  • Hiring a vehicle and driving over.

We went with option 4, hiring a vehicle and driving over. We found two companies that hire vans and bike trailers.

Having our own vehicle gives us flexibility to tiki tour between Christchurch and the West Coast ( not that there will be much time for that but you never know what adventures we might be able to squeeze in ), leave gear in the vehicle that we don’t want to ride with and its saving us money on shuttles to the start of rides and pick ups at the end as we are just getting a vehicle transfer instead of individual shuttle pickups which when divided by 8 is a massive saving.

We are also adding part of the West Coast trail to our mountain biking tour of the West Coast.

Our itinerary looks a bit like this:

  • Fly Auckland Christchurch
  • Hire van and trailer
  • Visit supermarket
  • Drive Christchurch to Blackball
  • One night stay in Blackball
  • Drive to start of Paparoa
  • Ride 20km from Smoko carpark to Moonlight tops hut
  • Ride 36km Moonlight tops hut to Punakiki
  • One stay in Punakiki
  • Drive to Hokitika/Tree tops ( 1 hr 15mins)
  • Do tree tops walk
  • Ride to Cowboy Paradise 52km
  • Stay Cowboy Paradise
  • Ride Cowboy Paradise to Kumera 34km
  • Drive to Christchurch
  • Fly to Auckland

Phew…logistics sorted!!! Now we just need to wait for the ride to open.

Side note: this trail is popular. At the time of our planning in October 2019, bookings in the weekends were already full till June 2020 for a group of our size. As we are doing the West Coast trail we ended up doing Paparoa mid-week which gave us more flexibility on bookings.

Jed from Punakiki Beach Camp has been most helpful with vehicle transfers and will also do shuttles, vehicle storage and of course accommodation including some great looking holiday homes that we are staying in for a night at Punakiki.

Photo courtesy of the Department of Conservation. I hope to take my own when I ride the trail.