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Pike29 Memorial Track opens

The Pike29 Memorial Track officially opened today with mountain bikers and walkers set to use it for the first time tomorrow.

Pike River families, Ngāti Waewae, Minister of Regional Development Shane Jones, West Coast Tasman MP Maureen Pugh and those who worked on the track were among those who gathered for the opening ceremony this morning.

Pike River Families Group Committee chairperson Colin Smith cut a yellow ribbon to mark the opening. Family members and others then walked through on to the track amid the luxuriant podocarp forest as two kea flew high above.

The 11.6km dual mountain biking and walking track connects the Paparoa Track Great Walk to the Pike River valley.

The new track has been created in partnership between the Department of Conservation, Ngāti Waewae and the families of the 29 men who died as a result of the Pike River mine disaster in November 2010. Colin Smith says the opening of the Pike29 Memorial Track has very real significance for Pike River families.

“It embodies the enduring memory the families sought for their family members lost in the Pike River Mine disaster on 19 November 2010. “This track will ensure the memory of those family members lives on through the eyes and minds of all those who walk or bike this track forevermore.

“What a wonderful legacy that is for all of us, not only for the present generations but also for those to come so that they, like us, can reflect on the tragedy of the Pike River Mine Disaster and the lessons to be learned from it, remember those who were lost as a consequence of it and enjoy the beauty that abounds on the track and in the Pike Valley.”

In addition to creating an enduring memory for their family members lost in the disaster the Pike River families wanted to create long term sustainable economic benefits for those West Coast Communities impacted by the disaster.

DOC Western South Island Director Operations Mark Davies says the Paparoa Track Great Walk has already brought social and economic benefits for local communities.

“Overnight visitors are spending money here and nearly 30 permanent and seasonal jobs have been created.

“The Pike29 Track will build on this with more opportunities for businesses such as cycle hire and shuttles.” The track rises 880m from the Pike River valley floor to the Paparoa Range ridgeline making it a challenging walk or ride. It’s an Advanced: Grade 4 track for mountain bikers.

As it winds between the valley floor and the tops of the range it introduces visitors to the story of what happened at the Pike River Mine It’s designed as a track in its own right but can also be used as an alternative entry/exit point for the Paparoa Track.

 

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