NZ South Island – Heaphy Track

Posting by Barb:

I have always been an avid hiker and was fortunate to live in beautiful Newfoundland, Canada where I was able to hike most of 265 km of the well known, scenic shore ‘East Coast’  trail . The trail took me to the outermost reaches of North America. So I could not be in New Zealand and not do at least one of the 9 ‘Great Tramps’. New Zealand Kiwis refer to hiking as tramping.

DSC_4712DSC_4561We decided to do the 78.4 km Heaphy track as it offered diverse scenery including beech forest,  tussock grasslands, lush forests, nikau palms and white beaches.

Due to some unforeseen transportation logistics as a result of us not doing our homework prior to booking the hike, we did the tramp in 5 days versus  the suggested 3-4 days. As per the website; The Heaphy Track is not a circuit track; the start/end of the track are 463 km apart by road so we had to arrange for transportation and could only book seats on a bus 5 days after the start of our tramp.

I was a little apprehensive about carrying a backpack load for 5 days of ‘tramping’ but we managed to keep our carrying weight to less than 25 kg, thanks to our Kiwi scroggin otherwise known as tasty freeze dried foods. Besides our food we carried our water bladders, warm clothes, rain coat, sleeping bag and of course our cameras.

New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DOC) offer night accommodations in communal huts for a small fee. The huts  are well equipped with cooking facilities,  bunk beds and pot belly coal stove for the cool nights. So each day we hiked to our designated, pre-booked hut and shared the living space with other hikers from a variety of nationalities and personalities.


There was a Dutch girl (not included in the above picture) that came ready to do the Track with a day pack (i.e. minimal food, n0 additional warm clothing, no raincoat, and no sleeping bag).  Luckily the weather cooperated and she finished the tramp safely. On the other extreme there was a group of 5 NZ friends (also not included in the above picture) all working with the same ‘Construction Company’ that came well supplied with steaks and other fine meals and a vast supply of alcoholic indulgences. I am certain their packs were a lot heavier than 25 kg. We weren’t sure if they were actually going to be able to complete the tramp but in 3 days they were out, leaving behind a trail of stories about the ‘drunken Neanderthals’ , as they were aptly nicknamed by the DOC wardens and other trampers.

DSC_4550-1We did manage to have 2 of the 5 huts to  ourselves.

One of the huts was very small and cozy and instead of the large communal kitchen it had a large fireplace with a pot to cook food over the fire. We planned a romantic night but I was dead to the world before Dennis had the fire going.






The extra 2 days tramping  time that we had allowed us to do a few side trips; one that took us to the top of the world with a fantastic scenic view, another that took us splunking in an ‘off the beaten track’ cave and another that took us to a place for a refreshing skinny dip. DSC_4653

The Heaphy Track brochure highlights the possibility of finding carnivorous land snails and kiwis.  We did find the Powelliphanta snail with a shell that was about 3 inches long and heard but did not see a Kiwi. More pictures of our ‘tramp’ are posted in our photo album.