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Bush and Beyond

New Zealand's Kahurangi National Park, Guided Walk Specialists

Heaphy Track Guided Walks

New Zealand's Most Diverse Walk

Enjoy the varied environment on the Heaphy Track
Enjoy the varied environment on the Heaphy Track

The Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand's designated 'Great Walks'. At approximately 80 kilometres, it is renowned as the 'flora walk' of New Zealand.

No other track has the diversity and number of plant species found on the Heaphy. Scenery and habitat range from montane nothofagus-podocarp forest and sub-alpine tussock grasslands, mountain vistas, through to lush, jungle-like lowland forest and Nikau palm fringed beaches and pounding surf.

Striped gentian
Striped gentian

The track has a colourful history. The route connects Golden Bay in the north of the South Island with the township of Karamea on the West Coast.

Evidence of moa hunters at the Heaphy (Whakapouai) River mouth has been dated to the 13th century. The Heaphy was one of the routes used by Golden Bay Maori to travel to the West Coast where they collected pounamu, highly valued for tools and weapons.

European history started with the discovery of gold on both the West Coast and Golden Bay, leading to the completion of a track to connect the two districts in 1893.

With the end of the gold rush era, the well graded and benched track lapsed into disuse, except for the occasional tramper, botanist or hunter.

Walk among the Nikau palms.
Walk among the Nikau palms.

It remained in that state for most of the 20th century. In the 1960s, with tramping becoming a popular pastime with New Zealanders, the track was 'rediscovered'.

The Forest Service responded by building more huts and upgrading the track. Trampers, in turn, arrived in ever greater numbers to experience this amazing tour of varied scenery and natural history.

The track receives its name from Charles Heaphy - explorer, artist and soldier - who, along with Thomas Brunner and their Maori guides Kehu and Etau, was the first European to explore the Heaphy coast.

All Bush & Beyond clients receive a personal checklist to assist with identifying and recording flora and fauna they experience.

Trip Facts and track description

There are always views on the Heaphy Track
There are always views on the Heaphy Track

Duration & Type: Guided and Catered,

Guided and Catered

Fitness level: average

Price: $1900 5 Days/4 nights

Price: $1990 6 Days/5 nights
This option includes quality accommodation - en suite (twin share) in Karamea with breakfast included (single surcharge $50).

Includes scenic return drive to Motueka or Nelson.
Transfer to/from Nelson Airport if required

Prices include all food, hut passes and transport ex Motueka or Nelson. We can arrange your accommodation for you in Motueka at a price and style which suits you. See accommodation page. We will get you back to Motueka or Nelson on your last day, unless your option is to carry on down the West Coast.
Short on time?
If you require a 4 day package - ask for further information about this option.

A unique feature of our Heaphy Tour is the delicious gourmet food provided including local products.

More about Bush & Beyond cuisine.

Read about each day's guided walk on the Heaphy Track here

Self Catered (interpretation only) guiding

Giant Rata
Giant Rata

Duration & Type: Self-catering, 5 day walk (4 persons minimum)

  • $1200 pp, 4 to 7 persons
  • $1100 pp, 8 to 10 persons

This service is an economical alternative for people who want expert guiding but who are willing to provide their own food. Full interpretation is provided, with a focus on flora, fauna, geology, history and conservation in the Kahurangi National Park.

Bush & Beyond also provide transport (ex Motueka), safety gear (medical kit and locator beacon) and hut passes (and bookings if required). Clients will be expected to supply, carry and cook all their own food, using their own cooking gear.

Monthly Weather Data For The Heaphy Track

Figures below are recorded at Bainham, near the eastern end of the Heaphy Track, South Island.

Month Average Daily High °C Averag Daily Low °C Average no Rainy Days
January 22 11 11
February 23 11 9
March 20 9 10
April 18 7 12
May 16 4 13
June 14 2 13
July 13 1 13
August 14 3 14
September 15 5 14
October 17 6 15
November 19 8 13
December 21 10 12

Source: Dept of Conservation, 2018
Note that rainfall is higher on the western side of the track on the West Coast of the South Island.

Southern Rata on New Zealand's Heaphy Track
Southern Rata on New Zealand's Heaphy Track

Heaphy Track Flora

The Heaphy is renowned for its flora for several reasons. Kahurangi National Park has more plant species than any other park in New Zealand.

During the last ice age the tussock grasslands (peneplains) of the park escaped glaciation and became refuges into which many of New Zealand's alpine species colonized. As the park is situated in the centre of New Zealand, it is also the southern or northern limit to many species.

As if this weren't enough to make it pretty special, the Heaphy Track starts in lowland forest, climbs through a variety of habitat to a sub-alpine plateau, and eventually finishes in coastal forest with the world's most southern palm trees fringing its beaches.

There are many rare and endemic species along the track. All 5 species of Nothofagus (southern hemisphere beech) are found here. Huge podocarps and giant northern ratas are found in the lowland forest. On the Gouland Downs a huge variety of alpine and sub alpine species exists, including Celmisias (mountain daisy), Dracophyllums, Gentians, and Bulbinellas. Perching orchids, Astelias, mosses and spleenworts galore drip from the forest giants in the lowlands. Karaka, nikau and ngaio are among the many tree species to be found along the coast.

Entoloma hochstetteri
Entoloma hochstetteri

Heaphy Track Fungi

Fungi fanciers have much to enjoy along the Heaphy Track.

There is a lot still to be discovered about New Zealand's fungi.

New species are being discovered frequently. With its varied of habitat, there is no better place than the Heaphy Track to view the unique and strange New Zealand fungi.

The secretive New Zealand Fernbird in Gouland Downs tussock.
The secretive New Zealand Fernbird in Gouland Downs tussock.

Birds And Other Fauna

For the bird lover, many of New Zealand's rare and endangered species may be seen or heard on the Heaphy Track.

As with the flora, the habitat diversity also means a large variety of bird life. Among the more common birds which may be seen are robin, tomtit, brown creeper, pigeon, rifleman, bellbird, tui and pipit. Also quite commonly seen are kaka, kakariki, kea and weka.

The more rare birds to be seen include fernbird, falcon and blue duck. Moreporks are frequently heard at night. The nocturnal great spotted kiwi are commonly heard in the evenings across the Gouland Downs and sometimes in the western lowlands. They are rarely seen however.

Common coastal sightings include pied and black shags (cormorants), a variety of gulls, oystercatchers and terns.

These giant Powelliphanta, canivorous New Zealand snails, are distinctive to the Tasman region.
These giant Powelliphanta, canivorous New Zealand snails, are distinctive to the Tasman region.

Other fauna

Before the arrival of humans, especially Europeans, New Zealand was a land virtually without mammals. Introduced species, now regarded as pests, such as deer, goats, possums and stoats may occasionally be seen. On the coast native fur seals may also occasionally be seen.

New Zealand's giant Powelliphanta land snails are quite common and are often seen. The largest of all New Zealand species is found on the Gouland Downs - Powelliphanta superba.
The North West Nelson Giant Weta may possibly be seen.

Contact us now about a guided walk on the Heaphy Track

Contact us now about a guided walk on the Heaphy Track

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Outdoors Safety Audit Certified

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