Trek Notes - New Zealand

Heaphy Track

Heaphy Track

The Heaphy Track is best known for its beauty and diversity. For 82 kilometres it crosses a range of landscapes in the Kahurangi National Park, from the junction of the Brown and Aorere Rivers, over expansive tussock downs to the lush forests and roaring sea of the West Coast.

The track usually takes 5 days. It is classified as a walking track, being well formed and suitable for most people. All rivers and major streams are bridged. The Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand's "Great Walks".

Day 1
We drive 30 km up the Aorere Valley from Collingwood, with human habitation getting sparser all the time. The road stops at Browns Hut, the first hut of the track, but we don't stop here. Our first night is at Perry Saddle Hut (26 bunks), a full 5 hours walk and 700m higher. The wide graded track climbs up through the bush, giving views of Mt. Olympus and the thick bush of the Aorere Valley, and on a fine day it is possible to see Mt. Taranaki in the distance.

Day 2
An easier day, with only 4 hours walking. The track goes through patches of beech forest before the wide expanse of the tussock covered Gouland Downs comes into view. The track meanders down to Cave Brook, passing the famous 'boot pole' on which trampers over the years have tied their old boots. Then we come to a limestone outcrop, with caves and waterfalls. We visit the oldest hut on the track, the Gouland Downs Hut, then continue on the flatter part of the Downs to Saxon Hut (16 bunks).

Day 3
 The longest day of the walk, made up of a morning 3- 4 hour walk to McKay Hut and another in the afternoon. The track crosses the Saxon River flats, then onto the broad ridge between the McKay and Gouland Downs, passing an old pole marking the boundary between the Nelson and West Coast provinces. The vegetation varies between tussock and shrub fringed beech forests, and we get views of the ocean in the distance. We have a leisurely lunch at McKay Hut and then begin the long gentle descent (downhill all the way), with the temperature getting warmer as we descend down towards the coast. The bush is ever changing from the alpine scrub to taller and taller trees and the welcoming sight of the tree ferns and lowland forest. We stay the night at the Lewis Hut (20 bunks) at the junction of the Heaphy and Lewis rivers with a good opportunity for a swim.

Day 4
The easiest of the days, a leisurely walk along the river flats of the Heaphy River, with its luxuriant rainforest of kowhai, cabbage trees, and nikau and a visit to one of New Zealand’s biggest rata trees. In the afternoon there is the option of a swim in the lagoon, walk along the beach, or an off track visit to the very special Field’s Cave. We stay at the Heaphy Hut for the night (30 bunks).

Day 5
The final day is a 5 hour walk along the magical West Coast, with high cliffs, pounding seas, nikau and karaka tree forests and wild scenery. The track is mainly alongside the beach, and beach walking is possible for those who enjoy it. However, there is no swimming in this sea as it is just too dangerous! The distinctive cone of Kohaihai Hill may be seen in the distance, our destination for the day, where there is a small steep climb over a saddle to remind us that this the Heaphy Track we have just walked!

At Kohaihai our 4WD vehicle is waiting for the short drive into Karamea, where we stay the night at The Last Resort - a very special place, where our quality shared lodge accommodation has been booked.

What makes our Heaphy Walk so special

  • We provide pick up and delivery from Nelson.

  • Our meal menu is varied and prepared with fresh food.
  • We take a digital camera with us, and at the end of the walk everyone receives a CD made up of our best Heaphy shots and the photos we have taken of the trip.
  • Everone receives a copy of the booklet “Heaphy People” the history of the Heaphy Track, as a souvenir.
  • Everyone receives a ‘Certificate of Completion’ to show off to your friends.
  • We stay an extra night in at a famous ecolodge in Karamea at the popular Last Resort, a chance to have a good hot shower, relax, debrief, and refresh before the trip back to Nelson.
  • We always drive back to Nelson through Westport and the scenic Buller Gorge, and describe the interesting scenery on the way (including Denniston, the scene of the book Denniston Rose).
  • We offer extras, like staying an extra day in Golden Bay to visit Farewell Spit, or an extra day in Karamea to visit the spectacular Oparara Arches.

Grade Medium

• All DOC fees
• We supply all the food and cook the meals.
• Transport as above
• One night lodge style accommodation in Karamea

• There is a surcharge for a trip of one person only.
• The Department of Conservation has introduced a booking system to guarantee a bed in huts. If the huts are full we can then camp. We will supply the tents and carry them.

• Full accommodation is available in Golden Bay.
• Stay an extra day in Karamea, visit the Spectacular Oparara area with its famous arches and other natural wonders. You may wish to leave us here and continue your holiday down the spectacular West Coast.
• Stay an extra day in Golden Bay, visit the world famous Waikoropupu Springs and Wharariki Beach.
• Take a bus trip along Farewell Spit (takes all day).
• Add on an extra day trip from Karamea to the Oparara Arch, a spectacular
limestone arch in dense bush.

The Heaphy Track Made Easy
We offer the following:
Day 1: We pick you up from Nelson airport, you stay a night in Golden Bay.
Day 2: We begin the Heaphy Track.
Days 3-6: Walking the track (4 nights), stay 1 night in Karamea.
Day 7: We deliver you back to Nelson airport in time for an afternoon flight to wherever you wish.

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