For a country lined by a rocky coastline and peaks topping 10,000 feet, nine epic backpacking routes just weren’t enough. New Zealand takes trekking and biking quite seriously, enough so that the country’s long-distance routes are self-dubbed as the nine Great Walks. And at 5:30 PM EST on Tuesday, June 11, booking reservations for the Paparoa Track, the country’s 10th such trail, will open. While today is the official opening day for reservations, the Great Walk will open to the general public in December of this year, adding 34 fresh miles to the country’s already legendary trail system.
The Paparoa Track will follow the Pororari River through Paparoa National Park, which has been one of the most inaccessible public spaces on New Zealand’s South Island. Both hikers and mountain bikers will have access to the trail, with the recommended biking route taking two days and one night. The country’s Department of Conservation suggests people take three days with two overnights to work their way across the 34-mile trail. The trailhead is located in a historic mining town and traverses across limestone gorges, beech forests, and sandstone bluffs en route to the Punakaiki Blowholes. Once at the blowholes, trekkers can reward themselves by slipping off their hiking boots and crashing overnight in a hut overlooking the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea.
Along the way, you’ll pass through a lush rainforest and pristine coastline, under thick canopy and open sky. We broke down everything you need to know to plan your trip earlier this year, so once your reservation is secured the only thing left to do is haul yourself over to New Zealand. Reservations for the Paparoa Track, like the other Great Walks, are free — though you’ll have to shell out to crash in one of the huts on the far side.