With ancient podocarp forest blanketing the trail beneath me, I stand perched on the escarpment about halfway through the Paparoa Trail. The mountain wind forces tears from my eyes and between the momentary breaks in the cloud, I catch a glimpse into the deep channels of Pike River valley, which once held the Pike River Mine.
In November 2010, a gas explosion trapped and killed twenty-nine miners. It was one of the darkest days in modern New Zealand’s history and sent shockwaves throughout the world. Though their bodies were never recovered, the families of the “Pike29” wanted to create something to memorialise their loved ones. So in 2014, they proposed the design & build of “The Paparoa & Pike29 Memorial Track” to the Department of Conservation (DoC), which invested $12,000,000 and some of the best trail builders in the country (including one of the designers of Old Ghost Road).