The Heaphy Track is located in the Northwest corner of the South Island in Kahurangi National Park
Distance: 78.4 km / Duration: 5 days
At 78.4 km long the Heaphy Track is the longest of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Named after Charles Heaphy who was in the first party of people recorded to walk the distance and guided by Maori, the track was also used by early Maori on the search for pounamu ( Greenstone) in the Bouland Downs area during the 16th century. Starting in Golden Bay at Brown Hut (156km from Nelson), the Heaphy track normally takes five days to reach its finish at Kohaihai on the West Coast (110km from Westport). The Heaphy Track can only be completed one way and is highly regarded for its variety of landscapes. Podocarp bush, beech and nikau forests, numerous stream and rivers interspersed with tussock grassland will give walkers a variety of stunning scenery. The West Coast is reached at Heaphy Hut at the mouth of the river and marks the start of a coastal walk to your final destination.
- Package includes 7 days and 6 nights
- 2 NightsPre and Post Accommodation at Golden Chain Blue Balmoral Motel in Nelson (twin share)
- Transportation ex Nelson to and from the walk
- 5 Day Walk with 4 nights in Department of Conservation Huts
Please make arrangements to arrive in Nelson on a Tuesday as the bus transfer to Brown Hut departs from the Nelson i-site early Wednesday morning.
From NZ$ 619 per person
Numbers are limited – Book early to secure your space.
2018/2019 Season : 15th November 2018 to 30th April 2019 – SEASON IS OPEN
Please note the walk is fully booked over the following dates:
- 2nd, 12th, 13th, 20th, 21st, 25th & 28th November
- 2nd, 8th & 13th December
- 15th – 18th December
- 24th December – 9th January
- 17th & 31st January
- 2nd, 6th, 9th & 10th February
- 13th March
- 18th – 20th April
Day 1 – Wednesday
Brown Hut (road end) to Perry Saddle Hut
17.5 km / 5 hours
The first of many swing bridges walkers will use takes you over the Brown River before ascending toward Aorere shelter an estimated four hours walk away. Stunning views of the Aorere Valley can be had and on a clear day Mt Taranaki/Egmont can be seen on the Taranaki Bight on the North Island. After another half hour you will find yourself at the highest point of the Heaphy Track 915 metres above sea level by Flanagans Corner. Your bed for the night will be at Perry Saddle Hut another half hour along the path which also features a swimming spot at nearby Gorge Creek.
Day 2 – Thursday
Perry Saddle Hut to Saxon Hut
12.4 km / 3.5 hours
The historical pounamu gathering area of Gouland Downs is reached after crossing Perry Saddle and following the creek by the same name. The valley widens to the Gouland Downs tussock area as you approach Gouland Downs hut. With rolling tussock mixed with limestone and riverbeds, exploring the area may appeal. This area are well worth exploring but if mist lowers the landscape can become confusing. Your place of rest for the night, Saxon Hut, is found near the end of the downs.
Day 3 – Friday
Saxon Hut to James Mackay Hut
11.8 km / 3 hours
The day’s journey to James Mackay hut starts with a gentle descent to flats alongside the Brown River. A ridge joining Gouland to Mackay Downs brings you to more tussock fields with patches of beech forest and a number of small waterways on the way to the hut.
Day 4 – Saturday
James MacKay Hut to Heaphy Hut
20.5 km / 6 hours
Your day’s journey to the coast starts with a slow descent through beech and podocarp forest. Once you start to get sightings of the Heaphy River, you will know the approach to Lewis Hut is close once you start to observe nikau palms. A crossing of the Lewis River followed by another bridge will bring onto the left hand bank of the Heaphy River and its arrival at the ocean. Heavy rain often causes substantial and dramatic surges into the ocean and the track and bridges can get flooded so please take care.
Day 5 – Sunday
Heaphy Hut to Kohaihai (road end)
16.2 km / 5 hours
You now follow the coastline through a diverse range of nikau palms, karaka and rata on the way to Scotts Beach clearing. A chance for a final cup of tea and a snack before the ascent over Kohaihai Saddle and then you reach journey’s end at the Kohaihai River Bridge.
What should I bring?
To enjoy freedom walking a spare set of the clothes and underwear you are most comfortable wearing will ensure the hours on the track are a pleasure not a chore. Drying garments in the hut is often not possible for safety reasons so polypropylene and light wool with its fast drying qualities and ability to keep you warm even when it is wet is the most recommended material. Cotton clothing such as jeans, T-shirts and sweatshirts can be a serious liability when wet and have been responsible for a number of hypothermic incidents for hikers caught out in the cold.
Temperatures can vary during the day, with rain, sun and snow possible all on the same day at any time of the year. To ensure your clothing and sleeping bag stays dry we recommend you line your pack with a strong plastic bag before packing your gear into it.
Suggested clothing for the walks
- Sunhat, sunglasses and sunscreen
- Good quality warm wind and rain proof jacket (gortex or similar)
- 2 – 3 sets of fast drying clothing. One set to walk in and one set to change into at night. Layers of clothing are recommended to manage changing temperatures. It is not possible to dry clothing at the huts.
- Good quality walking / tramping boots
- Light weight shoes for around the hut
- Swimming costume and towel (optional)
- Warm hat and gloves
- Sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner
- Pack with large waterproof / pack liner
- Earplugs (optional), but you will be sharing the huts other people
- Camera (optional)
- First aid kit — Insect repellent, plasters for blisters, personal medication (e.g. antihistamine for allergy to wasp stings)
- Plastic bags for wet gear
- Torch and spare batteries — There is no lighting at the huts either in the living area or bunk rooms or between huts and ablution blocks.
- Water bottle — There is limited access to water on some places on the track
- Toilet gear — Toothbrush, toothpaste, toilet paper, small towel, soap
- Rubbish bag — you must remove all your rubbish from the track
- Cooking utensils — Pot/pan/billy, matches or lighter
- Eating utensils — Knife, fork, spoon, plate, cup
- Small gas cooker if you want hot drinks etc during the day
- Pot scrubber, tea towel
Food must be carried as it cannot be bought on the way, although some bartering may be possible especially if you have extra chocolate, gourmet cheeses or wine.
Breakfast cereals, crackers, cheese and jam for lunch and instant soup/dried pasta or dehydrated meals for dinner, snacks such as biscuits, muesli bars and tea and coffee will ensure you keep up energy levels without losing your appetite. Supermarkets in Nelson and Motueka will be able to supply all your food requirements. There are also a number of speciality outdoor stores which have a range of dehydrated meals and other food products specifically designed for multi-day walking.
Facilities at your accommodation
- Communal bunkrooms have no pillows or linen and are built with a combination of platform and/or individual bunks with mattresses
- While not five star, the huts you stay in have all the essentials you need for shelter and cooking with sinks, gas cookers, cold water, tables, seating benches and wood burners for heating and as well as solar lighting
- Ablution blocks have flush or vaulted toilets and washbasins with cold water only. Those wishing for showers or baths can enjoy the number of waterfalls or swimming holes on the track
Explore More Today
The range of diversity found on the Heaphy Track with alpine landscapes, lush native rain forest of podocarp, palm and beech and the tussock grasslands mean that many consider it to be the greatest of New Zealand Great Walks. Walkers are responsible for your own and party members safety. The Department of Conservation have a new online Intentions System which replaces the intentions books at each hut. It is crucial for walkers to advise others of their intentions regarding dates and routes taken before they embark on the Heaphy Track. Emergency locator beacons are also readily available for rent from Department of Conservation offices.
Take a moment to watch the short video and explore the maps then you will begin to understand what makes this track worthy of being named a ‘Great Walk of New Zealand’.