Kahurangi National Park, West Coast, South Island, New Zealand

Walking the Heaphy Track

“Many people consider the Heaphy Track to be the greatest of New Zealand’s nine Great Walks, combining alpine environments and a primeval, palm-fringed coastline.”

The 82 kilometre track through Kahurangi National Park, connecting the Aorere Valley in Golden Bay with Karamea on the West Coast of the South Island, is a fantastic adventure for moderately fit people of all ages. It is usually covered in around four to six days.

Scenically, every day on the Heaphy Track is wonderfully different.


Heaphy Track Sections


You’ll pass through ancient beech forests, expansive alpine tussock country, see giant rata trees, limestone caves and cliffs, cross broad rivers (all with sturdy bridges) and look out over rugged, densely forested mountains as far as the eye can see.

In the final section of the track you will stroll through an incredibly lush sub-tropical rainforest containing groves of native nikau palms, as you follow the wild Tasman coast from the Heaphy Hut to Karamea. You’ll also see all sorts of native birds, including screeching kaka and kea parrots, moreporks, rare whio or blue ducks (which are on the NZ $10 note), friendly robins, cuckoos, kingfishers, parrots, weka, pukeko, stilts, godwits, terns, oyster catchers, shags, herons, and some lucky trampers have even seen kiwi.

It is possible to walk the track in both directions, but most people start at Collingwood and finish in Karamea. Some trampers walk one way, rest a while in either Karamea or Collingwood and then walk back again!

“The Heaphy Track is perhaps the most gentle Great Walk, making it a great introduction to longer overnight tramps, while still being a fantastic experience for the seasoned tramper.”
The huts are spaced evenly along the track. The longest distance between huts, excluding shelters, is 17 kilometres between Brown River Hut and Perry Saddle Hut. All huts except two have gas cooking facilities.


The Heaphy Track in Winter

“Unlike many other Great Walks, the Heaphy Track is open year round.”
The winter season affords unparalleled freedom, tranquillity and affordability as the numbers on the track are less than the busy summer season, and the sandflies are on holiday.


Heaphy Tramping Tips

  • Carrying unnecessary weight on the Heaphy Track should be avoided, as you have to carry it a long way, so thoughtful preparation to eliminate non-essential items will prove wise. Hint: You can send excess luggage to Rongo Backpackers / Karamea Farm Baches and they will store it for you for free.
  • Good preparation before walking the track will ensure you have a safe and enjoyable tramp. Check the Department of Conservation (DOC) website before setting off to check on track conditions, closures, hut maintenance schedules and other information that may influence your adventure. Hint: Koura (Crayfish) Point (between Kohaihai Shelter & Heaphy Hut) is potentially dangerous at high tide. Please check tide times to avoid this section at high tide. Printable High Tide Tables are available for download from the Department of Conservation.
  • The presence of giardia in the water along the Heaphy Track has not been reported, but it is recommended to boil, or treat water before drinking.
  • It is good safety practice to fill in the hut books along the way and to state your intentions so that in the unlikely event of mishap, your most recent movements can be determined. (Include the date with the entry). It is also recommended that you share your trip intentions with a trusted contact prior to departure.
  • There are no rubbish disposal facilities on the Heaphy Track, so please carry all your rubbish out and dispose of it responsibly at your destination.
  • Cell phone reception is only available sporadically at Aorere Shelter and the Heaphy River mouth, with no reception available elsewhere along the track. Leave it at home and enjoy a peaceful break in the wilds of the Kahurangi. (Or send it on ahead to accommodation at your destination).
  • Dogs, horses and motorised vehicles are not permitted on the Heaphy Track. (Guide and search and rescue dogs are permitted.) Mountain biking is only permitted between May 1 and September 30.
  • Extra items can be posted to your accommodation at either end of the track for a very reasonable price and it will be waiting for you on arrival. (Be sure to address the package to yourself so it is clear to whom it belongs).
Guided Walks and Scenic Flights
Guided Walks and Scenic Flights
Bush and Beyond Guided Walks Walk the Heaphy Track with Kahurangi’s original guiding company. Ecology guides with conservation values. Fully catered or self-catered interpretation guiding. Nelson pick up.
Ph: +64 3 528 9054 Info@BushAndBeyond.co.nz
Kahurangi Guided Walks Our Heaphy Track guided walk includes Nelson transport, food carried and cooked! We also guide the Abel Tasman.
Ph +64 3 391 4120
Southern Wilderness NZ Gourmet guided walks & independent packages ex. Nelson. Great guides, great food, Great Walk.
Ph 0800 266 266 or 03 520 3095
Flight Corporation Save a day, spectacular scenic flight transfers. Free courtesy coach in Nelson. Ph +64 3 547 8175 or Ph 0800 FLYING Info@FlightCorp.co.nz

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