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Days: 6 days
(Up to 6 hrs of physical activity per day)
Start/Finish: Start: Motueka 7:30 - 8.00 am.
Please note there is a complimentary shuttle available from Nelson to Motueka the day before your trip begins. The shuttle departs Nelson iSite 3pm or Nelson Airport 3:15pm
Finish: Motueka, or Nelson (3:00 - 3:30 pm)
September 2019: 15, 22, 29
Period 1st May 19 - 31st May 20
Maximum 10 people.
Single supplement applies to all individual travellers.
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 you over the renowned Takaka Hill, also known as Marble Mountain for its huge outcrops of limestone marble rock. Next, 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. Reach the highest point on the track (910m) approximately 40 minutes from the destination for the night - Perry Saddle Hut. From the hut there are spectacular views of the distant saw-toothed Douglas Range and the Dragon's Teeth.
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. Stop at the Gouland Downs Hut for lunch, then continue through the Enchanted Forest. This is a limestone remnant with beech forest. Across the Downs, you will walk through more magic forest with Dracophyllum traversii and D. townsonii track side. Your destination, Saxon Hut, is situated in tussock country.
The lush forest opens to a distant view of the Heaphy 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 you will leave the Gouland Downs, and gently wind your way up and over to the edge of the Mackay Downs, then onto the Mackay Hut for a lunch break. Here you will have glimpses of the Tasman Sea and tomorrow's destination at the Heaphy mouth.
If you are overnighting at Mackay, a visit to the 'tops' above the hut is an afternoon option. Expansive and panoramic views around the mountains and out to the Tasman Sea, may be viewed.
If continuing to Lewis Hut today, you 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. You will descend to the Heaphy valley floor. 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 Saxon Hut to Lewis Hut is 24km, 7 - 8 hrs hiking).
After crossing the Heaphy swing bridge, the mixed lowland rain forest flora and the limestone outcrops cannot be rushed. There is little of this forest type left in New Zealand. Follow the river all the way to the mouth, arriving at Heaphy Hut around 1pm for a leisurely lunch.
For the entire day the track hugs the coast and goes in and out of nikau and karaka groves beside pounding surf beaches. There is magnificent scenery all the way, we stop for lunch in Kohaihai at the end of the track before driving for 20 minutes to Karamea. This is where your night's stay is at the Last Resort, Karamea. Enjoy a wonderful evening reflecting over the past five days.
On the morning of day 6, we will leave Karamea in our own transport 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 a light lunch. Arrival time in Nelson will be approx. 3:00 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 Karamea, 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.
Up to 6 hrs of physical activity per day.
At times carrying a backpack of 5 - 8 kgs.
Tracks generally in good condition.
Altitude gains of up to 600m on harder days.
No hiking experience necessary.
Reasonable standard of fitness required
The track is well graded and maintained, and all the major rivers and creeks are bridged. Only an average fitness level is therefore required. The walk has been planned so that short days follow the longer ones.
Clients are only expected to carry their own personal gear such as sleeping bag, clothing, etc. Your guides take care of the food, cooking gear, and other equipment. The pace will be slow so as to allow ample time for observations, drink stops and snack breaks.
Clients are advised that they require all items on the gear list including pack covers, polypros, raincoats and room for a sleeping bag in the pack not attached to the outside.
These items can be hired on request (NZ$50 per item):
A complimentary pickup service is provided from Nelson iSite at 3 pm or from the Nelson Airport at 3:15 pm through to Motueka the day before your hike.
All food on the hike is provided (except for dinner in Karamea on day 5).
Breakfasts include muesli or porridge and toast with condiments. Lunches are sandwiches or wraps with cold meat or tuna and cheese and tomatoes with hummus or chutneys. Dinners are either a meat dish or vegetarian. Vegetarian may be a variation of the meat dishes with veggie sauce, bean dish, tofu, etc. Snacks are also included and they may include bars, chocolate and nuts.
As there are no private huts on the Heaphy, you will stay in the large well maintained Department of Conservation (DoC) huts with comfortable bunks, coal ranges and gas cookers. Adequate space is booked in huts for each guided walk. There are seven huts and two shelters to choose from on the track. There are no shower facilities, but during the summer months there are some lovely bathing creeks and rivers plus a lagoon at the Heaphy Mouth. In the cooler months a basin of water can be heated for washing.
You will need to stay in Motueka the night before your departure. Here is a list of recommended accommodation.
Hat Trick Backpackers. Website: www.hattricklodge.co.nz
Rowan Cottage B&B. Website: www.rowancottage.net
Avalon Manor Motel. Website: www.avalonmotels.co.nz
The price includes all food, hut passes and transport as well as accommodation including B/B at Last Resort Karamea for one night on day 5 (not including dinner). Excluding Motueka accommodation the night before the hike.
Sleeping bag / pack hire if required, NZ$50 per item.
The Heaphy Track team has built a sound reputation as an ecologically based operation, with a concern for the park's natural values.
The guides have a vast knowledge of flora, fauna and history to pass on to you and are registered with the Department of Conservation. All guides have current First Aid Certificates. Risk management sheets depicting planned route and client information are completed prior to each trip, and left in the Motueka office. A cell phone is carried on all trips, and where cell phone reception is not within easy reach, a mountain radio and/or emergency locator beacon is carried as well.
Can we hire gear and how much is it?
Yes, sleeping bags (with liners) and packs (with liners and pack covers) are available. The cost is $50.00 per item. Backpacks range from 50 - 65 litres depending on your requirements.
How hard is it? Do you cater for beginners?
The terrain isn't difficult - there aren't any mountain passes, but it is the longest of the great walks at 82 kilometres. Although there are a few rough sections, i.e. narrow or muddy, the track is generally in a good condition. As long as you have a moderate fitness level, beginner hikers are welcome as long as you are aware of the above, because the guides carry all food and cooking gear. Clients must be able to carry their own personal gear which shouldn't weigh any more than 10kg.
Will I be picked up from my accommodation?
You will be picked up from your accommodation in Motueka on the morning of departure. Ensure you ring the Motueka office the day before departure, when you arrive in Motueka, to reconfirm pick up time, etc. Breakfast is not supplied on the morning of departure, so please organise this yourself.
Will I be with a group and what are the minimum, maximum numbers?
The minimum number is two clients and the maximum is 10. One guide with up to 4 clients, two for more.
For bookings four or more months in advance of the departure a 25% deposit can be paid with the remainder due 65 days prior to your trip. For bookings within four months of the departure, full payment is required.
All cancellations must be made in writing, and sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
More than one week (7 days) prior to departure: cancellation fee is 50% of the full fare
Less than one week (7 days) prior to departure: NO REFUND
A full refund, less 20%, will be given at the discretion of the trip operator if special conditions prevent you from undertaking the trip as scheduled, and/or if a doctor's certificate is supplied. We strongly recommend that you purchase travel insurance prior to your trip to cover such unforeseen circumstances.
We highly recommend travel insurance. World Nomads Travel Insurance provides online quotes.