The 56.2km (32.5-miles) Paparoa Track is Aotearoa/New Zealand’s latest mixed-use backcountry ride. It joins the already extremely popular Heaphy Track and Old Ghost Road as prime bike packing trip destinations. Its point-to-point route is what bike packing dreams are made of, with perfect gradients, insane views, epically-located backcountry huts and some of the most beautiful bush New Zealand has to offer. The track crosses the Paparoa Range, taking riders through alpine peaks, limestone karst landscapes and thriving rainforests.
While it can be ridden in a day, the route is dotted with three backcountry Department of Conservation (DOC) huts to encourage people to take in an overnight or multi-day experience. Each hut provides track users with bunk beds and mattresses, running water and gas cookers. Track users need to carry all their own food, sleeping bags and clothing—especially wet weather gear. The Paparoa range is situated on New Zealand’s West Coast where it rains 195 days a year on average, with 3,000mm (118-inches) of rainfall annually.
The Paparoa Track and the rugged West Coast of Aotearoa/New Zealand seemed like the perfect fit for the Kona Unit X. Much like the extreme West Coast landscape, our bikepacking-ready fully-rigid steel Unit X can handle it all.
The Kona Unit X has become a cult favorite among die-hard Kona fans. Maybe it’s the Cromoly frame. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s a bikepacking monster, or its well-geared 12-speed drivetrain, or modular dropouts which give you the ability to run it as a single speed if that’s your thing. Maybe it’s because the rigid fork makes it that much more of a classic. We may never know why the Unit X is such a popular bike, but we can only guess it’s because it is one of the most practical machines in our lineup.
Video: Ross Mackay
Riders: Khulan Tumen and Viet Tieu