Hiking New Zealand's Famous Heaphy Track

In a country revered for its hiking trails, New Zealand is best explored in the great outdoors. Great forests, nīkau palms, and open tussock grasslands; the Heaphy Track is an unruly paradise. If you are interested in trekking the longest trail of the Great Nine Walks of New Zealand, here is how you can.

Heaphy Track river

What to expect

Stretching to a total distance of 78.4 km, the Heaphy Track takes you from east to west (and vice versa) through stunning scenery. Due to its length, this trail in full will take you around 5 days to complete. But the terrain is gentle; the exception being a few muddy or narrow patches along the way.

You will have to pay a fee in order to stay in the Heaphy Track’s campsites and huts, which you can find more about on the Department of Conservation’s Website. Prices range throughout the year, the highest being in the Great Walks Season of the 1st October to the 30th April. This is when the trail is at its busiest, so make sure to book in advance!

Before you start spending, it is important to know that the Heaphy Track is currently undergoing construction — meaning that for the time being, the complete trail is temporarily closed. It is expected to fully reopen in October 2023, with the possibility of that date being brought forward.

With that said, it is still possible to see sections of the Heaphy Track right now. The area between Heaphy Hut and James Mackay hut is closed due to three bridges suffering storm damage in February 2022. However, the Heaphy Track is open at either end, and pre-arranged helicopter transfers are possible.

Heaphy Track markup showing section closed in 2022, Source: Department of Conservation (NZ)

Planning your trip

The best time to see the Heaphy Track is, of course, in the Great Walks Season as mentioned earlier. But this is not your only option. Open all-year-round, visiting the Heaphy Track is pleasant most times of the year — the exception being the rainy months of June and July.

To make things more exciting, the track allows mountain biking from May 1st to November 30th each year! In order to protect the local wildlife, you can only ride in the daytime. Suitable for athletic and intermediate riders, driving the Heaphy Track takes 2–3 days to complete.

Even if mountain biking is not your thing, you are going to need transportation to complete the entire trail. One way you can do this is by taking a bus service through the Heaphy Bus Company, which not only runs a scheduled service but also chartered trips for groups of travellers.

Equally, car relocation services through Heaphy Track is a viable option, which can be booked through Heaphy Track Help. This will cost you more than the bus service (around $250, prices subject to change), but makes for a more independent experience.

(Please note that these transportation services have been subject to change as a result of partial trail closure, but should be set to reopen with the trail.)

Planning a trip? Skratch has partnered with Sherpa to offer simple, trusted visa applications. Get your New Zealand eTA here.
New Zealand owl, taken between Saxon and James Macky huts

Getting there

If you fly with Golden Bay, then you can make the most out of your time on the Kiwi coast! This airline offers daily flights to the Heaphy Track from cities like Wellington, Nelson, Takaka and Karamea. You can also book onto a shuttle that will take you to either end of the track.

With prices starting at $199, Golden Bay gives you the flexibility and freedom you will crave when embarking on an adventure like these. Having been in business since 2006, these guys can give you the answers to any of your travel or trekking questions.

A beach by the Tasman Sea at the mouth of the Heaphy River

Why the Heaphy Track?

Offering great contrasts in nature, the Heaphy Track encompasses everything there is to love about New Zealand. This trail takes you through high mountains and low woodlands, delivering awe-inspiring views at every level. Maybe you have always wanted to explore a jungle, or relax by a deserted beach in between all your walking. Either way, the Heaphy Track is abundant in the opportunities it offers.

Whilst you are exploring caves and caverns, you may take notice of the unique wildlife. This ancient Māori trail cherishes the creatures who call it home, like the renowned Great Spotted Kiwi. If you want some time to connect with nature, the Heaphy Track’s diverse landscape is great for wandering at any pace.

Tahunanui Beach, Nelson

Whilst you’re in the area

As the nearest city to the Heaphy Track, you will want to spend some time in Nelson. Famous for its mesmerising golden beaches, it is no wonder why the people are so warm! Undoubtedly inspired by the natural beauty around them, Nelson boasts an impressive artistic community with a handful of galleries to match.

Far less crowded than other areas of New Zealand, Nelson is a brilliant option for those seeking peace and quiet in nature. Whether you want to stroll along the Maitai River or embark on yet another hike after your Heaphy Track adventure, this is a great destination for unwinding after the trip of a lifetime.

Starting from Skratch? Here are some links to help you get started:
For more adrenaline-packed trips and treks, check out our Life of Adventure series!

New Zealand — Facts before you go


🇳🇿 Māori, New Zealand Sign Language (Official); English (de facto).


💸New Zealand Dollar $

When to go

🏞️ In order to make the most out of New Zealand’s incredible landscape, we recommend visiting between the months of November to March.

Famous for…

🧝Lord of the Rings


☀️ Māori culture

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Hannah Douch
August 30, 2023

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