Day walks are popular on the Heaphy Track from both ends of the journey. Karamea is a great place to experience the West Coast section of the Heaphy, walking along a coastline of palm tree groves with deserted, sandy beaches and no evidence of man’s presence other than the track… Magic! The one hour walk to Scotts Beach is very popular, and features a picnic table, barbecues and space for campers. The Zig-Zag and Nikau Loop tracks are easily accessible and very popular.
More people are choosing to start and finish the Heaphy Track in Karamea. This overcomes the logistical challenges of vehicle relocation, transport and the associated expense. By walking or riding into the Heaphy Track from Karamea and then returning to the Kohaihai Shelter, you get to see the most scenic sections of the track twice and also return to your vehicle where you can then rest up at the many excellent accommodation facilities in Karamea and also explore the region’s other Kahurangi National Park attractions like the Oparara Basin, the arches, caves and rainforest trails.
A short walk up the steep bluff overlooking the Kohaihai campsite, river mouth, and Tasman Sea is a rewarding climb. The view is particularly spectacular at sunrise and sunset. The Zig-Zag Track is at the Kohaihai end of the Heaphy Track and is a good spot to sit and think about walking or riding the Heaphy, or to celebrate finishing it.
This is an easily accessible walk for all ages and physical abilities through a stunning grove of iconic West Coast nikau palms. Walk along the Heaphy Track for about 10 minutes, cross the swing bridge over the Kohaihai River and follow the signs. The Nikau Walk track through the rainforest loops back onto the Heaphy Track and takes about 30 minutes.
Scotts Beach Track
This easily accessible gem of a beach is about 45 minutes into the Heaphy Track from the Kohaihai Shelter. Golden sand, blue sea, crashing waves, densely forested hills, flowering rata and nikau palm groves… Scotts Beach is a fabulous short walk, a good place for a picnic, or for an overnight camp… pure paradise. The sandflies are friendly here, so take some repellent and dress accordingly. Swimming is not advised as the ocean is dangerous and there are strong currents, rips and tides.
Scotts Hill Lookout
The first stop for people walking into the Heaphy Track from the Karamea end is the Scott’s Hill Lookout. A short detour off the Heaphy at the top of the first hill affords a spectacular view north along the West Coast down to Scotts Beach and along the Coast to the region of the Heaphy Hut. From here, you can see the terrain ahead for the rest of the walk to the Heaphy Hut, through the nikau palm groves and across sandy coves to the sound of the crashing waves of the wonderful West Coast.
Pure luxury, this hut was completed in 2014 and is state-of-the-art. Double glazed windows, solar lights, wood stove, the Heaphy Hut is warm, dry and cosy. There are 32 bunks here and a large grassed camping area with room for 20 tents. Overlooking the lagoon where the Heaphy River meets the Tasman Sea, the Heaphy Hut is a perfect place to spend the night, take in a West Coast sunset, enjoy time away from phones, Internet, TV and the rigours of modern life and just be at peace with nature.
Many people also do overnight walks from either end of the Heaphy Track, staying at either the Heaphy Hut or Lewis Hut from the Karamea end (for a gentle, scenic walk and a sublime, possibly romantic overnight stop), or the Perry Saddle Hut from the Collingwood end (a good challenge for those considering a great walk, with an exciting alpine campout and mountain views).
There is a large camping area at the Heaphy Hut with ample space for forty campers, as well as the bunk accommodation inside.
From the Collingwood end, day tramping is a little less popular due to the remoteness of the car park, but the Brown and Aorere valley has quite a few fine day tramps in this rugged area of Kahurangi National Park, some of which branch off the early stages of the Heaphy Track.