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6 Day Heaphy Track Guided Great Walk

80 kms hiking over 5 days

Days
6

Pricing From
$1990

Difficulty

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Overview

Welcome to the Heaphy Track!

From the Golden Bay in the northern section of South Island to Karamea in the West Coast, the Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks. Located in Kahurangi National Park, the 80-km hiking trail features an exquisite diversity of flora and fauna, housing over 80% of the country’s plant species! 

The scenery on this trail ranges from sub-alpine tussock grasslands and scenic mountain views through to lush lowland forests and beaches lined with Nikau palms. If you’re looking for a bit of everything – beach, forest, unique birds and vegetation, and amazing views – this track is for you.

FitnessSuitable for anyone with reasonable hiking fitness. Gradual climb to the highest point of the track on the first day, with gradual descents on the following days. A mixture of hiking through ancient rainforest, coastal beagh walks and magnificent views makes this an outstanding "Great Walk".

Heaphy Track Altitude Map

Heaphy Track Altitude Map

Heaphy Track Altitude Map

Heaphy Track Altitude Map

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Motueka/Nelson to Perry Saddle HutAbout 6 hrs, 17 kms hiking

We begin with a two-hour scenic drive from your accommodation in Motueka to the start of the track in the Aorere Valley in Golden Bay. The road takes us over the renowned Takaka Hill, also known as 'Marble Mountain' for its huge outcrops of limestone marble rock. We then travel down the beautiful Takaka Valley, through the township of the same name, then turn inland to the Aorere Valley.

The track commences at Brown River and climbs on a well graded track through lowland then podocarp-beech forest. We reach the highest point on the track (910m) approximately 40 minutes from our destination for the night - Perry Saddle Hut (a distance of 17 km - 6 hours). From the hut there are spectacular views of the distant saw-toothed Douglas Range and the Dragon's Teeth. As we ascend the track you will be able to observe changes in the unique flora. Numerous bush birds - tui, bellbird, rifleman, tomtit and many more may venture out, curious of visitors.

When the bush peels away, you will be able to see the spectacular vistas from Flanagans Lookout at the highest point of the track and then again from the hut. There is also a chance to see two of our native parrots at the hut - the kea and kaka. At night the piercing cries of the great spotted kiwi can be heard.

Day 2Perry Saddle Hut to Saxon HutAbout 3.5 hrs, 13 kms hiking

An easy day of flat to undulating walking. First through kamahi-beech-quintinia forest, then across the rolling tussock grass lands of the Gouland Downs - a peneplain. We stop at the historic Gouland Downs Hut for lunch, then continue through the 'Enchanted Forest'. This is a limestone remnant with beech forest. On across the Downs, we walk through more magic forest with Dracophyllum traversii and D. townsonii. Our destination, Saxon Hut, is situated in tussock country. (A distance of 13 km - approx. 3 1/2 hours walking time, but we will be taking most of the day observing things along the way).

A chance for the fitter walker to climb Mount Perry first thing in the morning for the spectacular views into the Aorere Valley, across the Gouland Downs and out to Tasman Bay (on a clear day Mount Taranaki in the North Island can be seen). A fossick among the moss dripping beech trees of the Enchanted Forest, checking out some of the cave entrances in this lovely limestone outcrop. Once again at night listening to the great spotted kiwi. The rare endemic Bulbinella talbotii can be found on the Downs, along with the Pseudopanax lineris.

Day 3Saxon Hut to Mackay HutAbout 12 km hiking

The lush forest opens to a distant view of the Heaphy River mouth. This day may be done in two sections or an overnight option at Mackay is possible. Check with your guide as to your route. In the morning we leave the Gouland Downs, and gently wind our way up and over to the edge of the Mackay Downs, then onto the Mackay Hut for our lunch break. Here we have glimpses of the Tasman Sea and tomorrow's destination at the Heaphy mouth. A visit to the 'tops' above the hut is an afternoon option. Expansive and panoramic vistas around the mountains and out to the Tasman Sea may be viewed.

Day 4Mackay Hut to Heaphy HutAbout 22 kms hiking

On the way to Lewis Hut we encounter a different flora habitat once again, with the banks along the track covered with mosses and a huge diversity of other plants. The geology changes to granite country with wonderful outcrops. We descend to the Heaphy valley floor, as the track winds gradually down through ever changing forest with new species being added constantly, until the first nikau palm appears and the forest takes on a jungle like appearance. The Lewis Hut is situated on the confluence of the Heaphy and Lewis Rivers.

From Lewis Hut, the Heaphy River approaches the West Coast of New Zealand. Only around 8 km - 2 1/2 hours walking, however a longer time may be taken as there is so much to see. After crossing the Heaphy swing bridge, the mixed lowland rainforest flora and the limestone outcrops cannot be rushed. There is little of this forest type left in New Zealand. We follow the river all the way to the mouth, arriving at Heaphy Hut.

Where do we start! The huge change in habitats and flora, the greatest change over the whole track occurs today, from the sub-alpine downs to veritable rain forest. The nikau, podocarp and giant northern rata forest will leave you breathless. Along with idyllic river scenes and, in season, the Earina and Winika perching orchids.

Spend the afternoon beachcombing on the driftwood-strewn shore and/or swimming in the large sandbar protected lagoon (but not swimming in the spectacular but dangerous surf!) Maybe just a relaxing afternoon with a book before finally arriving at the chance to experience the famous Heaphy sunset.

Day 5Heaphy Hut to KohaihaiAbout 16 km hiking

For the entire day the track hugs the coast and goes in and out of nikau and karaka groves beside pounding surf beaches. We stop for a picnic lunch en route to our finish at Kohaihai. There is magnificent scenery all the way (16 km, 5 - 6 hours). From the nikau and karaka forest to the wonderful West Coast beaches - this whole day is certainly a highlight. Seabirds to be seen today include the cormorant, oystercatchers and gulls. We may even see a seal sunning itself on the rocks.

Also to be seen is our large native pigeon (the kereru), especially when one of their favorite foods - the nikau berry - is ripe. We spend our final night at The Last Resort . We have a celebratory dinner (own cost) and get to experience real West Coast hospitality. The restaurant has excellent regional cuisine, including their famous whitebait patties, a New Zealand native fish. This is a fun night of relaxation and laughter, full of camaraderie after spending five adventurous days together!

Day 6Return to Motueka/Nelson

On the morning of day 6 we will leave Karamea in our own transport at approx. 9 to 10:00am for the 5 1/2 hour scenic drive to Motueka or Nelson. This route will take you down the Northern West Coast to Westport, then through the picturesque Buller Gorge. We will be stopping en route at Murchison for lunch. Arrival time in Nelson will be approx. 3 to 3:30pm, so it is advisable not to book a flight out of Nelson until after 4:30pm in the event of unforeseen circumstances delaying our return.

Any excess luggage left behind in Motueka whilst you are on the track, will be awaiting you at the Karamea Hotel, where we finish the walk. If you are continuing on down the West Coast after your Heaphy walk, we can drop you off in Westport if desired.

COST PER PERSON

October 2022 - September 2023

  • From Nelson: NZ$1,990 (Twin)
  • Single supplement: NZ$50

Cancellation Fees

  • 71 Days or more prior to departure NZ$500 per person
  • 8-70 Days prior to departure 50% cancellation charge
  • 0-7 Days prior to departure 100% cancellation charge

Itinerary

Open All
Day 1Motueka/Nelson to Perry Saddle HutAbout 6 hrs, 17 kms hiking

We begin with a two-hour scenic drive from your accommodation in Motueka to the start of the track in the Aorere Valley in Golden Bay. The road takes us over the renowned Takaka Hill, also known as 'Marble Mountain' for its huge outcrops of limestone marble rock. We then travel down the beautiful Takaka Valley, through the township of the same name, then turn inland to the Aorere Valley.

The track commences at Brown River and climbs on a well graded track through lowland then podocarp-beech forest. We reach the highest point on the track (910m) approximately 40 minutes from our destination for the night - Perry Saddle Hut (a distance of 17 km - 6 hours). From the hut there are spectacular views of the distant saw-toothed Douglas Range and the Dragon's Teeth. As we ascend the track you will be able to observe changes in the unique flora. Numerous bush birds - tui, bellbird, rifleman, tomtit and many more may venture out, curious of visitors.

When the bush peels away, you will be able to see the spectacular vistas from Flanagans Lookout at the highest point of the track and then again from the hut. There is also a chance to see two of our native parrots at the hut - the kea and kaka. At night the piercing cries of the great spotted kiwi can be heard.

Day 2Perry Saddle Hut to Saxon HutAbout 3.5 hrs, 13 kms hiking

An easy day of flat to undulating walking. First through kamahi-beech-quintinia forest, then across the rolling tussock grass lands of the Gouland Downs - a peneplain. We stop at the historic Gouland Downs Hut for lunch, then continue through the 'Enchanted Forest'. This is a limestone remnant with beech forest. On across the Downs, we walk through more magic forest with Dracophyllum traversii and D. townsonii. Our destination, Saxon Hut, is situated in tussock country. (A distance of 13 km - approx. 3 1/2 hours walking time, but we will be taking most of the day observing things along the way).

A chance for the fitter walker to climb Mount Perry first thing in the morning for the spectacular views into the Aorere Valley, across the Gouland Downs and out to Tasman Bay (on a clear day Mount Taranaki in the North Island can be seen). A fossick among the moss dripping beech trees of the Enchanted Forest, checking out some of the cave entrances in this lovely limestone outcrop. Once again at night listening to the great spotted kiwi. The rare endemic Bulbinella talbotii can be found on the Downs, along with the Pseudopanax lineris.

Day 3Saxon Hut to Mackay HutAbout 12 km hiking

The lush forest opens to a distant view of the Heaphy River mouth. This day may be done in two sections or an overnight option at Mackay is possible. Check with your guide as to your route. In the morning we leave the Gouland Downs, and gently wind our way up and over to the edge of the Mackay Downs, then onto the Mackay Hut for our lunch break. Here we have glimpses of the Tasman Sea and tomorrow's destination at the Heaphy mouth. A visit to the 'tops' above the hut is an afternoon option. Expansive and panoramic vistas around the mountains and out to the Tasman Sea may be viewed.

Day 4Mackay Hut to Heaphy HutAbout 22 kms hiking

On the way to Lewis Hut we encounter a different flora habitat once again, with the banks along the track covered with mosses and a huge diversity of other plants. The geology changes to granite country with wonderful outcrops. We descend to the Heaphy valley floor, as the track winds gradually down through ever changing forest with new species being added constantly, until the first nikau palm appears and the forest takes on a jungle like appearance. The Lewis Hut is situated on the confluence of the Heaphy and Lewis Rivers.

From Lewis Hut, the Heaphy River approaches the West Coast of New Zealand. Only around 8 km - 2 1/2 hours walking, however a longer time may be taken as there is so much to see. After crossing the Heaphy swing bridge, the mixed lowland rainforest flora and the limestone outcrops cannot be rushed. There is little of this forest type left in New Zealand. We follow the river all the way to the mouth, arriving at Heaphy Hut.

Where do we start! The huge change in habitats and flora, the greatest change over the whole track occurs today, from the sub-alpine downs to veritable rain forest. The nikau, podocarp and giant northern rata forest will leave you breathless. Along with idyllic river scenes and, in season, the Earina and Winika perching orchids.

Spend the afternoon beachcombing on the driftwood-strewn shore and/or swimming in the large sandbar protected lagoon (but not swimming in the spectacular but dangerous surf!) Maybe just a relaxing afternoon with a book before finally arriving at the chance to experience the famous Heaphy sunset.

Day 5Heaphy Hut to KohaihaiAbout 16 km hiking

For the entire day the track hugs the coast and goes in and out of nikau and karaka groves beside pounding surf beaches. We stop for a picnic lunch en route to our finish at Kohaihai. There is magnificent scenery all the way (16 km, 5 - 6 hours). From the nikau and karaka forest to the wonderful West Coast beaches - this whole day is certainly a highlight. Seabirds to be seen today include the cormorant, oystercatchers and gulls. We may even see a seal sunning itself on the rocks.

Also to be seen is our large native pigeon (the kereru), especially when one of their favorite foods - the nikau berry - is ripe. We spend our final night at The Last Resort . We have a celebratory dinner (own cost) and get to experience real West Coast hospitality. The restaurant has excellent regional cuisine, including their famous whitebait patties, a New Zealand native fish. This is a fun night of relaxation and laughter, full of camaraderie after spending five adventurous days together!

Day 6Return to Motueka/Nelson

On the morning of day 6 we will leave Karamea in our own transport at approx. 9 to 10:00am for the 5 1/2 hour scenic drive to Motueka or Nelson. This route will take you down the Northern West Coast to Westport, then through the picturesque Buller Gorge. We will be stopping en route at Murchison for lunch. Arrival time in Nelson will be approx. 3 to 3:30pm, so it is advisable not to book a flight out of Nelson until after 4:30pm in the event of unforeseen circumstances delaying our return.

Any excess luggage left behind in Motueka whilst you are on the track, will be awaiting you at the Karamea Hotel, where we finish the walk. If you are continuing on down the West Coast after your Heaphy walk, we can drop you off in Westport if desired.

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