The Heaphy Track: Reviewed!

Yes more tramping.  😀

For my fashion minded followers, I admit this is probably a bit of a switch (shock?).  To be honest, as much as I love shoes, I also love love love tramping.

So as I mentioned in my last post, D and I did a fair bit of tramping again over the Christmas holidays, as has been our habit these past 2 years (as an FYI, we did spend Xmas day with D’s grandma this year, and his other grandparents last year).  This year we tackled the Heaphy track, NZ’s longest great walk at 78.4 km.  This has been a track that I had been dying to do for ages now.

Heaphy track elevation map

Heaphy track map

D and I did it in 4 days and we tented (as tenting is only $14/pp vs. $32/pp to stay in a hut).  Although as an FYI, in future I would recommend staying in the huts as the main huts (Perry Saddle, MacKay and Heaphy) have either been upgraded or will be upgraded within the next year and they are pretty flash.  Also, carrying a tent, cooker, gas, and mats meant that our packs were reasonably heavy (I think I started with roughly 17.5 kg, D probably was closer to 20-21kg) which ultimately meant we were quite tired!

Anyways, it was a good track.  We had rain on and off pretty much every day (as expected).  The change in flora going from Brown hut to Kohaihai is incredibly dramatic so I probably would recommend doing it in that direction.  The sandflies were about as bad as anywhere in NZ, so bring lots of bug spray!

The thing that really set the heaphy track apart for me was the wildlife.  We saw more wildlife on this track than on any other we’ve ever done (including carnivorous snails.  For reals!).  The bird song was really spectacular as well.

Dec 27: Sneaky weka trying to steal our chocolate

Dec 27: Cheeky weka trying to steal our chocolate from inside our tent

Dec 27: view from Mt. Perry (side trip)

Dec 27: view from Mt. Perry (side trip)

Dec 27: beautifully coloured moss along the track

Dec 27: beautifully coloured moss along the track

Dec 27 (Day 2) was our longest day.  We covered 24 km (mostly along the flat), however, we started the day by climbing Mt. Perry which added 2 hours (and 800m total elevation) to our day.  We only found out about the Mt. Perry track late in the evening on the 26th when one of the other trampers told us to come inside the hut and have a cup of tea with him (as a general rule of thumb, campers are not allowed to use hut facilities and some hut wardens will crack down on this big time, so we had been avoiding the hut completely).  It was only once D was inside reading the hut literature that he saw there was a side trip.  We could have easily done it on the 26th, we had plenty of time!  But we didn’t find out until too late – so we did it first thing on the 27th (especially since the weather at the time was clear).  Although it made our day extra long, it was well worth it as it offered some excellent views which we wouldn’t have otherwise had.

Dec 28: Weta in our tent (yes my hand for scale).  Was not happy to be moved!

Dec 28: Weta in our tent (yes my hand – complete with bitey sandfly – for scale). Was not happy to be moved!

Dec 28: NZ robin (they have no fear)

Dec 28: NZ robin (so friendly!)

Dec 28: 2 of 4 weka chicks near Lewis hut

Dec 28: 2 of 4 weka chicks near Lewis hut

Dec 29: Tramping the west coast in the rain!

Dec 29: Tramping the west coast in the rain!

Dec 29: Carnivorous Snail!

Dec 29: Carnivorous Snail!

All in all, you can see we saw many varied types of creatures along the track!  Although the heaphy wasn’t as spectacular as say the Routeburn, Milford or Kepler, the many varieties of plants and animals, as well as the full day tramping along the beach made it well worthwhile (and quite a change for us, since we’ve never done a coastal track).

The challenge for the Heaphy is transport – we used Trekexpress, who were great – very easy to work with.  We left our car with them in Mapua (just outside Nelson), and they dropped us off at Brown hut, then drove our car around to Kohaihai on the 29th.  It worked really smoothly and although we thought it was expensive at the time (but it saved us hours of busing/driving), we found out that getting a bus from Kohaihai back to Nelson cost nearly as much.  So especially if you are a group of say 3 or more, having your car driven around for you would probably be quite economical.

So there you go.  I’ve completed 4 of NZ’s great walks.  Now, 5 (or 6) to go (Abel Tasman, Tongariro Crossing, Rakiura, Lake Waikaramoana, and the Whanganui Journey which is technically 5 days in a canoe or kayak down the Whanganui river so not a walk at all.  And although the Hump Ridge is technically not a great walk because it is privately owned, that is just a minor detail).  Slowly ticking them all off!

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3 thoughts on “The Heaphy Track: Reviewed!

  1. I consider myself to be a girly-girl when it comes to fashion, but I am equally, if not more so, happy discovering nature. I’m not familiar with the term “tramping,” but it looks like fun!

    • LOL. Tramping is the NZ word for hiking or backpacking. It IS a very funny term, but in my humble and totally unbiased opinion, the best way to see NZ. 😀

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