Heaphy Track

  • Bainham
  • Cycle Trails & Mountainbike Parks

The Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, connecting the Aorere Valley in Golden Bay with Karamea on the West Coast. Traversing a variety of ruggedly beautiful landscapes in the Kahurangi National Park, the track is open to mountain-bikers between May 1st and November 30th each year.

Referred to as one of the most scenic back-country rides in New Zealand, The Heaphy Track meanders across diverse terrain and suspension bridges, including a 148.5m suspension bridge across the Heaphy River. Rocky riverbeds, a roaring coastline, limestone cliffs, craggy ranges, alpine meadows and valleys of native palms are just some of the landscapes you’ll be exposed to along the roughly 80km track through the wild, west coast wilderness.

The Heaphy Track is a grade 3+ mountain-bike track that is well-maintained to a Great Walk standard. Very experienced expert riders often attempt to complete the journey in one day, but most riders will enjoy 2-3 days in the backcountry, staying overnight in some of the 6 huts along the way. This is a physically challenging but incredibly rewarding ride and is not for the faint-hearted.

One of the many highlights of the Kahurangi National Park is the diverse array of flora and fauna. The national park is home to over 80% of all alpine species in New Zealand, the largest population of great spotted kiwi, the carnivorous land snail Powelliphanta, and other endangered wildlife. As you traverse the red tussock fields of Gouland Downs, you might be lucky enough to spot the flightless takahē which were reintroduced to Kahurangi in 2018. Night riding is prohibited along the Heaphy Track to protect these endangered species.

How to get there: The Heaphy Track can be ridden in either direction. The Aorere access point to the track is at Brown Hut in Collingwood, whilst the Karamea end begins at the Kohahai Shelter. Many riders prefer to begin their journey from Aorere, as there is an enjoyable 12.5km downhill descent from Mackay Hut. Transport services are available at both ends of the track to get you and your bikes to where you need to be.

Photo credits: (1) Department of Conservation, (2-8) Giselle Purcelle.

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