This large park at the South Island’s northwest corner is home to the most diverse habitat of any New Zealand national park. The biggest attraction in this park is the Heaphy Track, one of the lesser walked of DOC’s Great Walks.
The park’s diverse environment allows over half of New Zealand’s plant species to thrive here including 80% of its alpine flora.
At the other end of the track, the Karamea Express (tel (03) 782 6757) runs a shuttle bus that picks up at the Kohaihai River Mouth, and takes you down to Karamea and Westport.
The Department of Conservation maintains seven huts and seven campsites along the Heaphy Track.
You have to buy a Heaphy Track hut or camp pass from a DOC office to walk along the track. Huts on the Heaphy Track cost $20 in the peak season (Jan-Apr & Oct-Dec) and $10 off peak (May-Sep). Camping costs $10 (Jan-Apr & Oct-Dec), $7 (May-Sep).
There are several excellent hiking tracks in the park, but the Heaphy Track is by far the most popular.
The Heaphy Track (82km, 4-6 days) offers beautiful scenery and crosses a diverse landscape that includes tussock downs, forest and rugged coastal scenery.
Although it is a long hike, the track is well formed making it relatively easy going.
Most people hike from north to south, reaching the highest point on the first day and allowing for a mostly downhill hike.
After leaving Brown Hut, the track crosses the Brown River and then traverses a grassy plain before climbing and reaching the track’s highest point (915m) half an hour before reaching Perry Saddle Hut.
The track crosses Perry Saddle shortly after leaving Perry Saddle Hut and then continues along windswept plains.
The track crosses tussock plains for most of this section.
This part of the track crosses the border between the Tasman District and West Coast Region. The track gently climbs through the Mackay Downs and the ground can get boggy after rain.
The gradual descent to sea level begins after leaving Mackay Hut. This section sees the environment change from beech forest to incorporate nikau palms and the taller trees that are associated with the West Coast.
The track now follows the path of the Heaphy River and passes through forests of tall rata and rimu trees before reaching the Heaphy Hut on the West Coast.
The final leg of the track follows the sea through nikau palm rainforest. This section offers a few opportunities to walk along the beach.