The Heaphy Track is one of the most popular tracks in the country. A Great Walk in every sense, it traverses diverse terrain – dense native forest, the mystical Gouland Downs, secluded river valleys, and beaches dusted in salt spray and fringed by nikau palms.
Although quite long, the Heaphy is well cut and benched, making it easier than any other extended tramp found in Kahurangi National Park. That said, it may still be found arduous, particularly in unfavourable weather.
Tramping from east to west most of the climbing is done on the first day, and the scenic beach walk is saved for the end, a fitting and invigorating grand finale.
The track is open to mountain bikers between May and October. Factoring in distance, remoteness and the possibility of bad weather, this epic journey is only suited to well-equipped cyclists with advanced riding skills. A good port of call for more information is the Quiet Revolution Cycle Shop in Takaka.
A strong tramper could walk the Heaphy in three days, but most people take four or five days. For a detailed track description, see DOC's Heaphy Track brochure. Estimated walking times:
Brown Hut to Perry Saddle Hut
Perry Saddle Hut to Gouland Downs Hut
Gouland Downs Hut to Saxon Hut
Saxon Hut to James Mackay Hut
James Mackay Hut to Lewis Hut
Lewis Hut to Heaphy Hut
Heaphy Hut to Kohaihai River
In person, the best spot for detailed Heaphy Track information and bookings is the DOC counter at Nelson i-SITE. Closer to the Golden Bay end of the track, hut tickets, bookings and other track information can be obtained in Takaka at the Golden Bay Area DOC Office or Golden Bay Visitor Centre. See also www.heaphytrack.com and DOC's Heaphy Track brochure.