The Heaphy Track
Located in the Kahurangi National Park at the top of the South Islands West Coast, this area is remote and rugged. The Heaphy Track is an awesome Grade 4 multi day adventure ride in classic New Zealand wilderness. You will experience lush forests, rivers, mountain views, tussock downs, Nikau palms and the sound of the roar of the waves crashing along the West Coast beaches. This track is only open to mountain bikers from 1st May to 30th November.
Auckland to Golden Bay
We started off with a delayed plane trip from Auckland to Nelson and our bikes. Once in Nelson we all crammed into the cars with our bikes, gear & food then drove over to Golden Bay. Driving over the Takaka Hill was an experience with its tight turns and gorgeous views. It is worth stopping at the top.
Takaka Airport – Green Paddock – James McKay Hut
We woke up to a chilly stunning morning, bikes and gear all sorted and off we went to Takaka Airport. A 5 Seater Plane awaited us for a 10-minute trip to a paddock about 4 km from the start of the trail. Bikes secured upside down on the wings. Only place in the World – a total MUST!
It took us 8 hours to get up to James McKay Hut with lots of stops to take photos and admire the view. At one stage, I just stopped and listened to the bird life amongst the native trees – priceless.
We rode along rocky trails and crossed many steams up to Perry Saddle Hut where we stopped for lunch. The wind was cutting and we were now surrounded by tussock and less trees. The highest point of the trail is Flanagan’s Corner at 915m, not far from Perry Saddle Hut. Make sure you take the short side trip to the lookout point.
From Perry Saddle Hut, we started riding downhill and the track soon became smoother and more flowing. This was my favourite part of the ride for Day One – tussock for miles, bridges and narrow boardwalks.
The James Mackay hut was a pleasant sight with the day starting to darken, getting ready for the early night sky of 5pm. The Hut was full of good conversation and new people to meet. A nice warm fire and gas available to use to cook one’s dinner, sure made it a pleasant evening. There were even flush toilets close to the hut, so no long walks in the dark to be had. What an awesome day surrounded by people you love and cycling.
James Mckay Hut – Kohaihai Shelter – The Last Resort Karamea
With a bit of cloud in the sky and the temperature not so cold we set off for a fantastic downhill section that I just didn’t want to end. Originally, I had planned to ride down as fast as I could, but it was just way to pretty with magical looking forests and stunning scenery.
We popped out by the Heaphy River and started riding towards the West Coast. The bush changed to grooves of Nikau Palm trees and if it hadn’t been winter you would have thought you were in the Tropics. Sand-fly’s and the sound of the crashing waves on the beach confirmed we had arrived on the West Coast!
With heavy looking sky’s we made short stops along the coast to have lunch and rest breaks. Lots of short pinch climbs, sand and rocky streams to cross made for a fun ride.
The rain came and the temperature dropped. We had opted to ride from the Kohaihai Shelter to The Last Resort in Karamea, about 17km in icy rain. They call it ‘The Road from Hell’ and now I know why. With icy driving rain and a road that looked like it went on forever. Thank goodness for my Helter Skelters from Ground Effect – they saved the day.
The Last Resort couldn’t have looked better with its warm fire, heaps of food and the locals all made for a good laugh. With full tummy’s and dry clothes, we headed to bed realising our trip was almost at an end. Yes, the Heaphy Track was great but the people along the way made the trip the best ever.
The Last Resort – Karamea Airport – Takaka Airport
This is a MUST. Flying back over the Kahurangi National Park was amazing and such a perfect way to end our trip. A 30-min flight up and over with views of the mountain and where we had biked. I was put in the chunder seat at the back of the plane and was glad it was only a short trip!
All up we rode 96km with 1632m evaluation gain, carrying all our gear to survive for a couple of days, not a bad effort and totally worth it. I rode on my Giant Pique and it just ate it up. My bike was made for this trail. Would I ride this trail again – TOO RIGHT.
Adventurers Travel Company can organise your Heaphy Adventure ride and much more, just get in touch now.
Written by Cycle Coach Janet Stark
Getting YOU on your bike and loving it. She loves helping people find confidence in their riding and gets them out exploring on guided trips, women’s retreats and coaching lessons. Based in Auckland Janet has been riding since she was a little girl. She volunteers at her local bike club and runs her cycle business with the purpose getting more people on bikes.
Check out her website here