Truman Track, Paparoa National Park, Westland NZ

An attractive and varied short walk through rainforest and coastal vegetation that makes a good introduction to the unique NZ West Coast environment.

Truman Track, Paparoa National Park

On our first road trip down the West Coast of New Zealand we stopped along the way to complete a few short walks (perhaps 15 minutes to an hour). Some, like the Truman Track, were not planned, but turned out to be an excellent introduction to this beautiful and unique part of the country. This track in particular was a good one as it had a variety of vegetation, and signs identifying some of the notable plants found in this region, which is much wetter than my usual stomping grounds of Canterbury and Otago. It starts in very lush rainforest, then quickly transitions to attractive coastal scenery, and the whole walk can be done in 30 minutes (plus photography time!).

Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
Lush forest and cliffs at a roadside lookout on the way down the coast.

Track notes at the end. I can also recommend a short walk on the nearby Pororari River Track, and you should probably also visit Pancake Rocks, which can be viewed on a short circuit walk.

Truman Track: The Scenery

Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
A great spot at the small car park over the road from the start of the track.
Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
A great spot at the small car park over the road from the start of the track.

Truman Track, Paparoa National Park

Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
Rimu. They used to make furniture out of this, although not sure if this still happens.
Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
A big rata (Northern Rata). They are epiphytes, and eventually take over their host tree.
Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
Our first time to see kiekie, which is either a climbing or sprawling plant.
Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
There were ferns, nikau palm, vines, big trees, mosses – the works.
Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
I liked how some of the trunks were covered in climbing plants. These leaves looked a bit like beech tree leaves.

Truman Track, Paparoa National Park

Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
This looked like it was landscaped, but harakeke / NZ flax in fact grows very well in these harsh conditions and so dominated in this stretch just back from the beach.
Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
The beach. What looks like grey sand was actually very small stones.

Truman Track, Paparoa National Park

Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
Sophia in a cave of sorts.
Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
Sophia was examining potential food.
Truman Track, Paparoa National Park
You can see a small waterfall to the right.


Track Notes

The Truman Track is a short (roughly 30 minutes return) constructed track to viewing points on the coast. It’s located on the main road just a few kilometres north of Punakaiki. We dropped down to the beach for a bit of exploring, which you might not be able to do safely at high tide or in stormy weather. There’s more information on the DOC website.

Map of short walks near Punakaiki
All three of these short walks near Punakaiki are on constructed and obvious tracks. The Truman Track and Pancake Rocks Circuit are very short. I don’t actually know how far we went on the Pororari River Track (which continues to be longer day walk and also a multi-day walk), but 40 minutes to an hour return should be enough time.

Author: Edward Hathway

I'm a clinical psychologist and keen hiker.

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