hiking

Heaphy Track

If you are looking for a tramp that will take you through pretty much every sort of terrain possible to find in New Zealand, then this Great Walk, in the awesome Kahurangi National Park, is the one to choose. A bit like a “Best of the Great Walks” you will encounter vast native forests, rushing mountain streams and waterfalls, tussocky alpine country and remote palm fringed beaches.

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Activity in brief

Distance:
78 km
Duration:
4 days
Start - End:
Brown Hut (Golden Bay) - Kohaihai (West Coast)
Transport:
Bus & Plane, Vehicle Transfer

Terrain: Moderate, mostly due to length. Track is generally well formed and maintained

Accommodation: Designated Great Walk Huts

Nearest Town: Takaka (Golden Bay), Karamea (West Coast)

Activity Overview


The Heaphy Track is currently partially closed until further notice.

Recent heavy rain has caused extensive damage to three bridges on the Heaphy Track. The track is now closed between Heaphy Hut and James Mackay Hut. Through trips will not be possible until further notice.

The track between Brown Hut and James Mackay Hut is in good condition and remains open. Visitors can book return trips from the Golden Bay side, using Perry Saddle, Gouland Downs, Saxon and James Mackay huts. 

Please contact us directly for more information.

 

The Kahurangi National Park is a truly enormous area of jagged mountains, fast flowing rivers and dense forest. This great wilderness stretches all the way to the primeval west coast of the South Island with its deserted beaches and stands of ancient nikau palms. The Heaphy Track takes you on a journey through all of this incredible terrain. It may be the longest of all the Great Walks but if you’re up for it, it’s definitely worth every kilometre.

The track started out as part of a network of routes Maori used to reach the west coast for collecting the highly prized “pounamu” or greenstone. These trails were later used by Europeans searching for gold and pastoral land. Now of course it is managed by the Department of Conservation, and it’s is definitely one of the best maintained tracks in the country. The huts are also in great condition – 3 are brand new, and there are lots of fun swing bridges over the countless streams and rivers.

The walk climbs through forest that is bursting with native plants and wildlife, some very rare and strange. Then out onto great areas of rolling tussock-land and past strange limestone caves and arches. Eventually you will descend to the west coast – definitely the highlight of the walk. With luck your efforts will be rewarded with a beautiful sunset.

Itineraries

Personalised Itineraries

Personalise your Heaphy Track Walk:

You can choose to walk the Heaphy Track in anything from three to five days depending upon how keen you are, and also from which ever direction suits you best. The four day itinerary is the most popular but if you want to do something different then get in touch and we can organise it for you.

There are also a variety of transport options - for example:

  • Direct flights from Wellington to Takaka, then return from Karamea to Wellington, are available if you are travelling from the North Island.
  • The standard bus/plane transport package can also be swapped for a vehicle relocation service if that works better for you.

Contact us to find out more!


Include the Heaphy Track in your unique Multi-Activity Trip:

You can combine this walk with any other activity on this website to create your own unique itinerary.

When you develop your own tailor-made itinerary with us, it's fully customised with your choice of activities, accommodation and transport around New Zealand - Click here for more information about Multi-Activity Trips or Enquire Now to get started.

 

OR SIMPLY BOOK this trip now...
Four Day Independent Walk
  • Hut accommodation on trail included. 
  • All your transportation taken care of with shuttle bus from Takaka to the start point and return plane ride from the end.

Day One: Brown Hut to Perry Saddle Hut (17.5km 5 Hours). In the morning you meet your shuttle bus at Takaka Airport and get taken through to the start of the track at Brown Hut. The trail begins with a gradual climb, following a route once surveyed for a road. After 3-4 hours, Aorere shelter is reached and a good place for lunch and well deserved rest. From here, the Aorere Valley is seen extending northwards and on clear days it is possible to see Mt Taranaki/Egmont on the North Island. Some more strenuous uphill leads to the viewpoint at Flanagans Corner: At 915 m, this is the highest point on the track. It's another 40 minutes to the brand new Perry Saddle Hut for your first night. Near the hut in Gorge Creek is a deep but cold pool, popular for swimming.

Day Two: Perry Saddle to James Mackay Hut (24.5km 7 Hours). Heading out on your second day - the longest of the walk - the valley widens and the tussocky Gouland Downs is revealed stretching out to the west. The track passes a limestone outcrop and crosses one of several limestone arches, which are the remnants of old caves. From Saxon Hut the track drops slightly to grassy flats beside the Saxon River and then climbs gently up to a broad ridge. The vegetation is alternately tussock field and shrub-fringed patches of beech forest and the pink granite sparkles and crunches beneath your feet. James Mackay Hut is situated on an open terrace for your second night. The Tasman Sea and Heaphy River mouth can be seen from here, 15 km to the west and 750 m below.

Day Three: James Mackay Hut to Heaphy Hut (20.5km 6 Hours). Your third day on the track is where you start your descent. Soon the dense rainforest typical of the West Coast becomes dominant. You cross the Heaphy River, via a 148.4 metre suspended deck suspension bridge. Towards the river mouth, nikau palms become more common and the sea’s incessant roaring grows louder. The Heaphy Hut is situated back from the sea where it's more sheltered - this is your last night on the trail.

Day Four: Heaphy Hut to Kohaihai River Mouth (16km 5 hours). The Heaphy River mouth is an exhilarating place of surging waves and tide - definitely not the place for a swim though. Heading south along this spectacular and wild coastline you pass though forest of rata, karaka trees, vines and groves of nikau palms. Scotts Beach is a good spot to rest before climbing over Kohaihai Saddle and down to Kohaihai carpark and you have reached the end of a truly epic tramp! From here you will get picked up by bus for a short ride to Karamea Airfield and straight onto a plane back to Takaka.

Pricing: Four Day Independent Walk

From NZD$420 per adult and NZD$270 per child (up to 17). Includes 3 nights hut accommodation on the track and all your transportation.

Book Now

Activity Planning

When to go

Due to its location on the west side of the South Island, the Kahurangi climate can be wet, but it is also generally mild. The track can be tackled at anytime of year although you may find snow at the high points of the track in the winter (up to 915 metres). In extremely wet conditions sections of the track can flood and become impassible and dangerous. We can help you plan for this if the forecast for your trip is looking bad.

What to bring

Wet weather gear

Stout boots

Hat

Water bottle

Sunscreen

Insect repellant, long sleeved shirts and trousers (to combat sand flies)

First-aid kit

Torch

Communication device

Sleeping bag

All your food, plates, bowls, utensils etc.

Accommodation
Accommodation on the trail

 

Huts

Your accommodation for this walk will be in the excellent Department of Conservation Great Walk Huts along the track, some of which are brand new. They feature flush toilets, gas stoves, fresh water, mattresses, tables, benches and heating.

For more information about backcountry huts in New Zealand please checkout our accommodation guide here.

 

Accommodation in Golden Bay, Karamea and Westport

We can organise your accommodation in the Golden Bay region, Karamea and the larger town of Westport, for before and after your walk if you wish. Please let us know what sort of accommodation you are looking for when you make your booking for this activity, and we can discuss the options with you.

Transportation
Shuttle Bus + Plane

One of the features of the Heaphy is the vast distance between the two road ends at the start and finish of the track, which is no less than 463km!

If you don't fancy the 5 hour road trip back from Karamea, then we can arrange a couple of nice simple transportation solution for you: You can jump on a shuttle bus from Takaka airfield to the track start point at Brown Hut, and then board a plane back from Karamea at the other end. Alternatively we can arrange for you to fly directly from Nelson or Wellington to Takaka and return from Karamea.

This is way quicker than catching a bus and the scenery along the way will be epic!


VEHICLE Relocation

If you want to continue south along the West Coast a great alternative option is to leave your vehicle at Brown Hut and we can organise for it to be transferred to the end of the track at Kohaihai while you are on the track. It will then be waiting for you when you finish your walk.

Route Map
Get in touch

For more information about us or our services contact us on
+ 64 3 390 1584
or email us at [email protected]

Enquire Now