New Years on the Heaphy Track

heaphy sunset
Its been awhile since I posted. Simply its because I am busy, happily plugging away on web work and some art projects (more on the art projects later). For this post I want to talk about the Heaphy track that I walked over New Years. A 4-6 day walk on the northern west coast of New Zealand. I thought I would write a post describing each of the days with highlights, so if anyone wants to do it they can take the info and perhaps make some decisions on huts and sections of the walk. For those of you not reading, as always I have pretty pictures. Some of these images will be up for sale on mychillybin to download and printout to go on walls or within graphic designs (royalty free)! BTW I am keeping the photos updated there, sold a few, its nice to have them used by others, not just “collecting dust” on my computer.

Day One: Getting there and starting out: Kohaihai River Mouth to Scotts Beach

We left from Murchison just before lunch and made our way to Westport to stock up at the supermarket and drive to the Karamea end of the track (Kohaihai River Mouth). AMAZINGLY beautiful drive… stunning landscapes. This was quite a long day especially for the driver (me) and luckily the planned one hour walk to the first campsite was booked and not the five hour option to Heaphy river mouth and beach. Scotts beach is beautiful and we only had two other couples staying at the same site. Facilities include a long drop and fresh water. U can have a quick wash in a river that goes out to the beach just before you hit the campsite. We made dinner at the beach to avoid the sandflies. The small amounts of sand in our food is better than been eaten alive!

Splitting up suppliesmaking dinnerScotts beach sunsetScotts beach, knitting

Day Two: Scotts beach to Heaphy Hut

Starting to see the famous giant land snail shells around, the coast is very west coast, majestic, dangerous and beautiful, with little spots of rain (luckily, looked like we might of gotten more). Nikau forests and warm weather. Heaphy campsite had great facilities, flushing toilets! Luxury! Lovely view and walk to the beach, swimming in the river near the camp site is very refreshing. Here we met up with some friends who we car shuffled with, swapped keys and carried on walking out in opposite directions. We celebrated New Years around a campfire and ate toasted marshmallows and chippies (potatoe crisps). Fabulous sunset, many photos were taken.

Scotts beach Heaphy river mouthstormy ocean : heaphy beachBeautiful Katrintide coming in fastheaphy sunsetNew years night

Day Three: Heaphy Hutt, relaxing.

This day was put aside to languish in our surroundings. Lovely place to walk around and explore. We hung out on the beach for most of the day, nicely avoiding the sandflies. (after a sleep in!) We knitted, walked, read and talked. Went to the hutt when it got a bit too windy at the beach and chatted with quite a few people. Again we had a lovely sunset, many MORE photos. People asked to view the images on my camera, but got turned away. NO viewing, conserving batteries! (Which actually means alot of sorting out on computer later.) My Nikon D80 battery was half full by the end of 6 days after taking around 600 photos. No extra viewing on screen besides the quick flick up of the photo just after taking it… I thought that was pretty good.
Heaphy beachThe Heaphy campsite

Day four: Heaphy to James Mackay hutt and campsite.

This is the day I discovered I hurt my achilles, somehow, the day before. When I put on my boots and walked the pain went from small bruised feeling to stabs of pain by the end of the day.. ouchy! So what should of been a 5-6 hour day turned out to be around 8-9. Oh well, I can’t of been in terrible pain because when I saw a Giant Weta on the path at the very end of the day slowly hobbling behind my German friends, my pack was slung onto the ground and the next five minutes I took quite a few shots, wishing I had a macro lens! Entering the camp at the end very slowly, but happily parroting on about the Weta, I don’t think they fully appreciated how cool it was! But they had plenty of time to pitch the tent and get a cuppa tea on the go for the delicate New Zealander (sorry guys, misrepresented the bulk of you i think) coming up the back.

James Mackay hutt is lovely, we had decks to pitch the tents on (let me just say i do prefer ground, BUT probably not that ground!) and we made a big yummy curry for dinner and hung out on the deck chatting to an American and Dutchman, who was nearing the end of his FIVE year cycle touring. He chose not to cycle New Zealand, too dangerous… our drivers are stupid. Yes i agree! So he is walking it instead. (flushing toilets again… really this is tramping?) Another amazing sunset with a view to the Heaphy river mouth.

big ol' tree Swing bridgeGiant WetaSunset at James Mackay

Day five: James Mackay to Gouland downs.

I love tussock and alpine landscape, so today I was a happy chirpy thing, hobbling behind again, but with so much things to take photos of I was happy to take my time. The track was HARD, i would recommend light, padded but strong tramping shoes or boots.  The weather very squally. German friends discovered my tendency to sing the same song over and over when i get tired.. I was taught a few German songs I can’t remember anymore….

Just before we reached the Gouland Downs hutt and campsite we came across a small forest. This was a small secluded, beautiful woodland, which I soon dubbed “Entville”. Caves a creek and a moss covered trees with little riflemans flitting and chirping about. We slept on the edge of this forest and heard Moreporks and Kiwis talking all night long. The hut was a small, old but clean, one other couple about, the lady turned out to be an old school aquantience. Deep pretty swimming hole five minutes walk from campsite.

flax flowers Giant Land Snail shelltussockEntville

Day six: Gouland Downs to Brown Hutt

Brown hutt is the first or last hutt at the north end of the Heaphy Track. So we had the car at the end of the day and camped out on the lawn infront of the hutt.

Out of all the days, this day’s scenery was the most dull! We had the lovely tussock scenery from Gouland to Perry hutt, where we had lunch. From Perry to brown it as a slow decent into the valley. From the tops we had a fabulous view, but in the bush, not so much. More rifleman birds and lots more people starting the walk (much more common to start at this end) we got quite a few “well dones” we were a little eager to end it by now… all of us with very sore blistered feet! For 80% of the track it is a hard walking track, beaten rock essentially and good boots are a must.. if you have soft cushioned innersoles all the better! (mine were not..).

Shoes Totem Pole

The last night was spent chatting a cool family who have a deer farm in the north island… all were Harry Potter and Twilight fans, so go on rather well. They offered their hospitality to my German friends when they travelled… which I thought was quite lovely!

View from Tops of Perry Saddle

Day seven: drove out had two cups of coffee in Collingwood and drove home. To a shower and gin and tonic!

View from Takaka Hill

If you read it all then your amazing! But to sum up, beautiful walk, we tented. Doing it again i would consider hutts, just to aleviate the weight we have to carry in, six days food aswell as tents, sleeping mat, sleeping bag and clothes for west coast weather all lead to quite heavy packs. When tramping in back country huts my pack is known for being very light! So when it came to carrying a heavy pack i didnt have the muscle! I would also take lighter softer shoes, but very good ones, someone i know who took some cheap sneakers walked through the soles of their shoes in the first day! MMmmm not so good.

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