Heaphy Track
February 13-16, 2007  
  • Southern rata on Mt Perry. These trees were ablaze with crimson flower right across the higher elevations, a reward for walking the Heaphy in mid-February. (Northern rata is in flower along the coastal portion of the track a month or two earlier.)
  • Southern rata flowers.
  • Rata 'berries'.
  • <em>Dracophyllum traversii</em> on Mt Perry.
  • Flambouyant  'drac' close-up.
  • Striped gentian flower on Mt Perry.
  • Rachel and Stephi on Mt Perry summit.
  • Alice walking beneath and ancient, twisted rata tree on Mt Perry.
  • Rachel examines tiny carniverous 'sundew' plants  with the aid of Maryann's magnifying glass.
  • Sundew flowers and moss decorated by misty rain droplets.
  • A weta, one of the largest insects.
  • Spider in orchide flower (<em>Thelymitrea</em>)
  • This small egg on Mt Perry was probably laid by a rare rock wren.
  • Rata and kamihi in flower.
  • Entering the vast Gouland Downs.
  • Gouland Hut, the oldest on the track, sits near of complex of limestone ravines and caves.
  • Tiny flowers on <em>Dracophyllum</em> shrubs on the downs.
  • Umbrella fern in Cave Creek gorge, near Gouland Hut.
  • A giant <em>Powelliphanta</em> carnivorous land snail, distinctive to this part of New Zealand.
  • Passing from the red tussock dominated downs to beech forest.
  • The secretive fernbird, more easily heard than seen.
  • A gregarious South Island robin -- anything but secretive!
  • Laternn berrie blossom (<em>Luzuriaga parviflora</em>.
  • View from the track toward the Heaphy River mouth (still two days distant). Mixed rata, beech and dracophyllum forest.
  • Flowering rata.
  • At its mid-point the track meanders through grassy vales and beech covered hills.
  • Brilliant mosses and other moisture-loving plants decorate the trackside below Mackay Hut.
  • Descending toward the rainy west coast, species such as rimu give the forest a new look.
  • Maryann and Alice share a laugh in Lewis Hut at the end of day 3.
  • Day 4: The broad Heaphy River, which we will follow to its mouth.
  • Rachel crosses one of several long (75m) swing bridges spanning the Heaphy and its tributaries.
  • A giant rata tree, hundreds of years old, near the Heaphy.
  • <em>Winika cunninghamii</em> - a 'perching' orchid.
  • Is Mary astonished, or just bored, by guide Maryann's revelations?
  • A dense tapestry of beech, rata, and nikau palm on the limestone cliffs along the lower Heaphy.
  • The Heaphy mouth, at last!
  • Heaphy Hut sits between palm and bush-clad hills and a spectacular, ever-changing beach.
  • The surf here rolls endlessly.
  • Variable oystercatchers.
  • Heaphy Bluff.
  • Heaphy sunsets are legendary.
  • A remarkable nikau palm with flowers and seeds covering four seasons.
  • White flowering rata along the coastal track.
  • Big Rock Beach.
  • Scotts Beach.
  • Our party enjoying a final lunch on Kohaihai Bluff.
  • End (or beginning) of the Heaphy Track.
  • Karamea aerodrome.
  • Our transportation back to Motueka.
  • A view of the rugged interior of Kahurangi National Park on the flight home.
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The Heaphy Track

After successfully completing the 3-day Routeburn Track last year, Alice was game to take on another “Great Walk,” the 82 km Heaphy Track in our nearby Kahurangi National Park. This is an excellent track, not overly strenuous after the first day’s gradual 750 m climb to Perry Saddle. While it is easily walked in four days (as I did in 2002), there is more than enough to see along the way to take five days. Transportation to and from the two ends can be a problem, with the start inland from Golden Bay being 3 hours driving from Nelson, and the finish near Karamea on the West Coast some 5 hours distant. However, we were fortunate to hook onto a guided trip offered by Bush & Beyond Guided Walks. Although technically we were self-supporting “freedom trampers,” we coordinated our days with guide Maryann and her clients, Rachel and Stephan from Switzerland and Mary from Wellington, and were able to fly back across the park with the guided group.

There was misty rain off and on over the first three days, but this only seemed to accentuate the brilliant colours of the bush (forest), particularly the crimson flowering rata, and the golden tussock “downs” for which the track is famous. The sun was in full force on the final day was we walked along the coast, intermittently through groves if nikau palm and on surf-pounded beaches.

For a full day-to-day description of the Heaphy walk, much as we experienced it, see the Bush and Beyond website.