A new 45-kilometre Great Walk will be created near the Pike River coal mine as a memorial to the 29 miners who died at the site five years ago.

The Paparoa National Park between Greymouth and Westport will also be expanded by nearly 4000 hectares to include the old coal mine, Environment Minister Nick Smith said this afternoon.

Marking the anniversary of the disaster, Dr Smith said the memorial came about because of the Pike River families' "determination that some good might come out of the terrible tragedy".

He said the Great Walk would bring new tourism and economic development opportunities to the West Coast of the South Island and ensure the final resting place of the miners remained accessible but was still properly respected.


The miners were killed by large methane explosions in the underground mine in November 2010, and their bodies have not been recovered.

The Great Walk - the tenth to be created in New Zealand - will run from Blackball to Punakaiki, and would include an eight-kilometre side-track to the Pike River mine.

"The Pike29 Memorial Track will be a stunning addition to New Zealand's network of Great Walks," Dr Smith said in a statement.

"The scenery of the limestone gorges of the Pororari Valley combined with views of the Tasman Coast, the Pancake Rocks, and the Southern Alps from the Moonlight Range will make it a spectacular track.

"These natural features, combined with the mining heritage sites up Blackball Creek and the information centre on the Pike disaster, also make for an experience of history and remembrance."

Pike River Families Group Committee spokesman Bernie Monk said victims' families were very supportive of the memorial, and worked closely with the Government on its development.

The Government will boost the Department of Conservation's budget by $10 million to cover the cost of constructing the walking and biking track.