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Going guided: The Heaphy Track

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June 2020 Issue

There is much more than meets the eye on the Heaphy Track, but it takes experience to reveal its hidden gems.

Before he started guiding the Heaphy Track, Bush and Beyond’s Richard Walker didn’t think much of it.

“But once you start looking, you realise how special the place is,” he says.

“And that’s the big thing about guiding – you get to give people a really enhanced sense of what they’re travelling through.”

One such treasure is the takahē, which can’t be seen in the wild anywhere else in New Zealand.

“Generally groups will hike through as fast as they can, and it’s not unless they’re actually stopped and shown what’s there that they realise just how special it is,” Walker says.

At nearly 80km, the Heaphy is DOC’s longest Great Walk and has earned itself a reputation for being the most diverse.

“You’ve got inland beech forest through to alpine areas, down into temperate rainforest in the valley and then coastal forest. I don’t think any other Great Walk has that,” Walker says.

Inclement weather – which can ruin other walks – often enhances the Heaphy, Walker adds.

“The drama of a storm and the changes in the vivid colours of the bush and the landscape make a very special experience – then you have a warm and inviting hut to comfortably dry out and warm up in.”

With more than 450km of rough roads separating the track’s ends, planning the Heaphy is a roadblock for some, but Bush and Beyond takes care of all of the planning logistics, and offers a round trip from Nelson airport, including an additional night in Karamea at the southern end of the track.

British trampers Gordon and Trisha Smith have holidayed in New Zealand 10 times in the last 13 years, completing many classic walks with guides.

“We have found guided tramping addictive and undertake a number on every holiday,” they say.

“A second trip is on the cards for us on our next holiday to New Zealand.”

Where Kahurangi National Park
Who Bush and Beyond, www.heaphytrackguidedwalks.co.nz
When September-April
Duration 5-6 days
Price From $1100