A new West Coast walk will commemorate the 29 men killed in the Pike River mine disaster.
Environment Minister Nick Smith announced plans on Sunday for the $10 million, 45-kilometre Pike29 Memorial Track from Blackball to Punakaiki, through the Paparoa National Park.
The park will be extended by 3971 hectares to include the Pike River site. Twenty-nine men died in the coal mine there following an explosion on November 19, 2010. Their bodies have not been recovered.
“[The track] has come about because of the families’ determination that some good might come out from the terrible tragedy that occurred,” Smith said.
“It will bring tourism and economic development to the West Coast, permanently protect an area of high conservation values and ensure the final resting place of the 29 miners is accessible but properly respected.”
The track will incorporate parts of the existing Croesus and Pororari River tracks and include an eight-kilometre side track to the Pike River mine, which will host an information centre and memorial. Two 20-bed huts will be built on the route. The track – New Zealand’s 10th Great Walk – is expected to be open by the end of 2018.
A Great Walk will bring tourism. I can hardly wait until it is open, as I’m working my way through the nine existing Great Walks. By March I will have done Milford, Kepler, Rakiura, Heaphy, Abel Tasman and Tongariro.