Families of Miners Killed in the Pike River Tragedy Have Opened a New Walking Track in Their Honour

The miners legacy lives on in this lush green hiking trail.
Emma Clark-Dow
February 21, 2024

The Pike29 Memorial Track has been officially opened by the families who lost their loved ones in the Pike River Mine disaster 14 years ago.

On Friday, November 19, 2010, a methane explosion killed 29 of the 31 miners who were underground at the time of the disaster. Multiple explosions occurring in the days following, and the subsequent blasts meant it was near impossible for rescue teams to recover the bodies of the miners, with only 12 bodies recovered as of 2023.

On Tuesday, February 20, politicians and Pike River families gathered to officially open the 11.6-kilometre track, marking the legacy of the 29 people whose lives were lost in the tragedy. The track has created a connection between the Paparoa Track Great Walk and the Pike River valley, located on the west coast of the South Island.

It was important to the Pike River families to give back to the South Island west coast community, who took a significant financial hit in the aftermath of the disaster. The Department of Conservation's Mark Davies said the area was already seeing both social and economic benefits of the Paparoa Track Great Walk, with the Pike29 track expected to increase revenue even more. Davies reports "nearly 30 permanent and seasonal jobs have been created [as a result of the track]."

Pike River Families Group Committee chairperson Colin Smith — who lost his nephew in the disaster — said the opening of the track would create a "wonderful legacy".

"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," Smith said.

The new track is best suited for experienced hikers and mountain bikers, due to the sharp incline along the Paparoa Ridge taking the hiker 880 metres above the Pike River valley.

The Pike29 Memorial Track is now open to experienced mountain bikers and hikers. It can be found at the Paparoa National Park, 45 minutes drive from Greymouth on the west coast of the South Island.

Published on February 21, 2024 by Emma Clark-Dow
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