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New Zealand hikesNew Zealand Heaphy Track

New Zealanders and overseas visitors have turned to unspoiled hills, forests and coasts of our magnificent New Zealand landscape in search of physical recreation and spiritual solace. The Heaphy Track is one of the safest tracks to be found in New Zealand's remote backcountry, free from river crossings, well marked and well provided with huts. It may be sensibly tackled by inexperienced provivded that their party includes one or two seasoned trampers or hikers. Heaphy Track is encompassed by North West Nelson Forest park.

Discover Heaphy Track, one of Kahurangi parks top destinations for tramping and hiking track adventures - the Heaphy Track,Tasman and Golden Bays, New Zealand.

General Information

Heaphy Track runs almost entirely through the North West Nelson Forest Park, the Gouland Downs Senic Reserve and areas of Crown Land administered by the Department of Conservation and Department of Lands and Survey. Heaphyl Track and its facilities are administered by the Department of Conservation; its rangers are regularly present at huts and on the track in a supervisory or maintenance capacity.

All fauna and flora are protected. It is the responsibility of every traveller to seen that the environment remains undamaged and unpolluted and is preserved as nearly as possible in its natural state. Dogs are not allowed except under permit in the eastern sector where they may be used for pighunting.

Hunting: All mammals (except bats) are introduced, noxious and fair game. Heaphy Track and its environs are closed to hunting but firearms may be carried. Hunting is not permitted at any time in the Gouland Downs Scenic and Wildlife Reserve. Information about the park may be obtained from the official park handbook and park pamphlets obtainable at park headquarters and stations, the Department of Conservation in Nelson Karamea, Collingwood, Takaka), at Government bookshops and many other booksellers.

Heaphy Track combines well with the Wangapeka Track which crosses the national park further south, beginning near Tapawera and ending just south of Karamea. It should however be noted that the Wangapeka track is significantly more difficult than the Heaphy. As one of New Zealand's Great Walks, there are certain regulations in place. Camping is allowed only in the vicinity of each hut and at other designated campsites. There is a limit of two nights stay at any one hut. Accommodation in huts or campsites must be purchased in advance as Great Walks tickets.

From Brown Aorere Valley Road end, 28km inland from Collingwood
To Kohaihai River mouth, 15km north of Karamea
Time 3 - 5 days , 82km
Distance 82 km One Way
Grade easy
Highest Point
915m, Flannagans Corner
Huts 7 Great Walks Huts, 10 Great Walks Campsites, 1 standard camping area at Kohaihai

Map 260 L26 Heaphy

  • Wild Coastal Scenery
  • Nikau Palms
  • Extensive Beech and Podocarp Forest
  • Tussock downs and alpine herbfields
  • Seven Huts
  • Five Shelters
  • Excellent transport to and from both track ends

Heaphy Track is a classic tramping or hiking trip from the beech forests in the east to the nikau-fringed beaches on the West Coast, New Zealand, a historic and scenic highway with a rich diversity of plants and the sweeping red and gold expanse of the Gouland Downs. There is a plethora of huts, and the walking track is generally of a high grade. The distance can decieve , and you should allow five days as a comfortable minimum. With four days you can enjoy at least one long day somewhere. Virtually every creek that could possible prove troublesome has been bridged, but these bridges can get washed out and its sobering to think that there have been severaldeaths in the past on this track. Sandflies and mosquitos on the West Coast, New Zealand can be vicious, but the glorious sunsets are a fair compensation.


Heaphy Track is an awkward track to get to, but there is public transport available to both track ends. Trampers or hikers often take their car to one end and fly to the other, then walk to the car. Bus services operate for both Collingwood and Karamea ends. Freephones operate at both Kohaihai Shelter and Brown Hut for calling up transport.

Track Transport
Heaphy Track is well served by public transport, with several bus companies, You can take a , bus, taxi or fly. There is considerable competition on this route, so a variety of options are available to suit your particular needs.
Local Services
Both Collingwood and Karamea are used to Heaphy Trampers and have food stores, petrol, garages, motels and motor camps. These are slow-paced relaxing townships with a definite back-country style.
Huts and Camping

Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand's Great Walks, there are certain regulations in place. Camping is allowed only in the vicinity of each hut and at other designated campsites. There is a limit of two nights stay at any one hut. Accommodation in huts or campsites must be purchased in advance as Great Walks tickets. There are designated camping areas for the Heaphy track. Huts can get uncomfortably crowded during the summer. Hut and camp site bookings required. Hikers pay hut fees per day which provides the user access to all huts and designated campsites. Wardens are present in the huts during the summer. Heaphy Track has a strict policy of 'carry out what you carry in' and no rubbish facilities are available.

Weather and Season
Heaphy Track lies mostly within a high hill and forest environment. Prevailing winds are westerly; heavy rainfall is the norm and snow may fall on the higher regions during late autumn and winter. The Gouland Downs area ia particularly exposed and frosts may be experienced theire at any time except midsummer. The usual season walking is from Labour Weekend (late October) to Easter (mid April). Only experienced trampers should undertake the Heaphy Track outside the season.
Clothing and Equipment

Walkers must take adequately warm clothing. In fine weather and on the Heaphy Coast, shorts and light shirt may be worn but long trousers, warm shirt and woollen sweater are essential for cold conditions. A waterproof parka is essential and a sturdy umbrella is a boon! Boots should be worn and these must be properly broken in. A comfortable pack and wamr sleeping bag is essential - there is no bedding in the huts.

All food and personal utensils must be carried. You must take your own liquid fuel (preferably gas) stove; there are no cooking facilities, though all huts have solid fuel stoves for heating and drying. Use the fuel provided at huts and campsites. If this is scarce, collect dead wood only. Do not chop live trees. All native trees are protected and, anyway, green wood does not burn.

You should take a small first aid kit, small compass, including insect repellant and a suitable antihistamine if you are allergic to wasp and bee stings. Wasps and bees are present in large numbers during the summer. Carry a torch and of course, appropriate track guide

Insect repellent may be appreciated: sandflies on the lower reaches of the Heaphy Track are of the best breeding stock and Heaphy River mosquitoes have an international reputation.

Fitness and Preparation

It is important to ensure that you are physically fit. If you are not preoccupied with blistered feet or sore muscles then not only will you cover the ground more quickly and safely, but you will have more time and opportunity to appreciate the scenery and natural features that you have made so much effort to reach! So - break in those boots, make sure your clothing and gear are comfortable and adequate, plan your food requirements, and undertake several training tramps or hikes of increasing length and difficulty. There's only one way to get fit for tramping - and that's tramping.

Before you leave home, inform relatives or friends of your intentations and dates of travel and put your names and plans in the log books along the way. This will make your location easier should you suffer any mishap.

Approach to Walking

Don't rush and don't loiter. Keep up a good, steady pace and don't indulge in too many rest stops - it's surprising how the time gets away from you. And rests should not be too long, otherwise you may stiffen up and lose your rhythm. Don't hang around if its wet and cold - keep body heat up. Start out early each day, so that you're always time in hand.

On the track, keep your party together at all times; this reduces the chance of a member getting lost or having an accident. Remember the golden rule - the pace of the party is that of its slowest member.
Guided Walks
For novices, young people, and older people - or simply for those who like and can afford a few mod cons - Guided walk operators offer a professional guiding services. For a fee you will be taken over the Heaphyl track in 4 - 5 days. You can carry only a light pack with personal effects. For further information and reservations you should contact your travel agent or Nelson Visitor Centre.

Although the Heaphy Track is well graded, well-marked, well-hutted and well-used track, do not undertake it lightly. 82 km is a long way; you must be sure of your ability to cover this distance with a pack and be prepared for rapid weather changes. In the past, walkers have had to be lifted off the Heaphy Track through exhaustion or injury and there have been deaths. Your group must be well prepared and fit. Relatives and friends must be informed of your intentions and dates of travels. Put your names and plans in the intentions books at the start and end of the Heaphy Track and in Heaphy Track Huts en route; this will make your location easier if you should suffer any mishap. Seek the Department of Conservation's advice if in doubt about weather and track conditions, and needs, plan well, and by the time you reach the track you will have no worries. Have a good time!

More>> Heaphy Track Photos &DOC Heaphy Track Brochure
Distances Tracks / Times

But observation of one's surroundings is reduced in direct proportion to the speed of travel and, one might add, the weight of one's load. Most Heaphy Track Walkers will want to take their time - for comfort's sake and to take in to the full attraction of the natural environment.

Brown Hut to Perry Saddle Hut
16 km
5.5 hrs
Perry Saddle Hut to Gouland Downs Hut
8 km
2.25 hrs
Gouland Downs Hut to Saxon Hut
6 km
2 hrs
Saxon Hut to MacKay Hut
12 km
3.5 hrs
MacKay Hut to Lewis Hut
12 km
3.5 hrs
Lewis Hut to Heaphy Hut
8 km
2.5 hrs
Heaphy Hut to Kohaihai Shelter
16 km
4.5 hrs



Further Information

Golden Bay Visitor Information Centre
Willow Street TAKAKA
Phone: (03) 525 9136


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