Mountain Bike the Heaphy Track

Heaphy Hut

The Heaphy Track, one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks,” is now a Great Ride. Mountain bikers are permitted by the Department of Conservation to ride the Heaphy Track between May 1 and September 30.

The following are recommended rides along this track.

Browns Hut to Perry Saddle: 3-4 hrs, 17.5 km (10.8 miles)

This ride is mostly a steady uphill through beech forest. The Aorere Shelter is about halfway, and there is also a short detour to check out Flanagan’s Corner, the highest point on the track, which is worthwhile for the stunning view.

At Perry Saddle there is a popular bathing pool in nearby Gorge Creek, and many people climb to the top of Mt. Perry as part of their Heaphy Track experience.

Perry Saddle to Saxon Hut: 2-3 hrs, 12.4 km (7.7 miles)

This is a relatively flat ride through the spectacular Gouland Downs, expansive tussock plains, distant mountain ranges, granite rock outcrops. Along the way, you will pass the famous tramping boot post, which has a collection of tramping boots and other tramping equipment and provides a fun photo opportunity. Bike helmets, gloves, and wheels may soon be added to the collection of artifacts!

The historic Gouland Downs Hut is about halfway, and provides a good spot for a lunch break or to shelter in case of bad weather. The hut has an excellent fireplace, but does not have gas-cooking facilities. Near the Gouland Downs Hut, a grove of beech trees adorns a limestone outcrop that contains several caves and arches, which are well worth exploring.

The Saxon Hut is the newest hut on the Heaphy Track and is named after John Saxon, who surveyed the track in 1886.

Saxon Hut to James Mackay Hut: 2-3 hrs, 11.8 km (7.3 miles)

Along this mostly flat route, you will pass through stunning tussock, beech forests, creeks, rivers, and rock outcrops. You also cross the demarcation line between the Tasman (Nelson) and the Buller (West Coast) districts. The view from MacKay Hut is spectacular; on a clear day, you will be able to see the Tasman Sea and the Heaphy River mouth.

James MacKay Hut to Lewis Hut: 1-2 hrs, 12.5 km (7.8 miles)

This ride is all downhill, running through beech forest and into taller, richer and more diverse forest indicative of the West Coast. Riding this section requires great care, as there are some rough sections. It is recommended that riders dismount and walk the rough spots to avoid damage to the track, machine or person.

Lewis Hut to Heaphy Hut: 1-2 hrs, 8 km (5 miles)

This is a stunning flat ride along the Heaphy River. You will encounter several large swing bridges and it is recommended that riders walk their bikes across the bridges. Flip your bike up onto the back wheel at about 45°, grip the stem with one hand and the top wire of the swing bridge with the other, and walk your steed across the river. Several massive rata trees grace the track along the way. The Heaphy River meets the Tasman Sea here, creating a turbulent clash of sea and fresh water.

Heaphy Hut to Kohaihai Shelter: 3-4 hrs, 16.2 km (10 miles)

This route is mostly flat riding through nikau palm groves, beside the beautiful white sand beaches of the West Coast and the roaring Tasman Sea. The Katipo Shelter is about halfway along, and there are also campgrounds at Scott’s Beach and Kohaihai.

Kohaihai Shelter to Karamea: 1-2 hrs, 15 km (9.3 miles)

This mostly sealed flat road passes through farmland.

For more information on riding the Heaphy Track, visit the New Zealand Government Site.

Pack List

  • Mountain bike
  • Biking gear
  • Water
  • Food
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RT Distance 58 Miles
Activities Camping, Mountain Biking
Skill Level Intermediate
Season Winter
Trail Type Point-to-Point
Features
Bathrooms
Beach
Forest
Lake
River
Scenic
Waterfall

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Tough But Worth It.

Fantastic walk from the West Coast to Golden Bay region. Beach walk through rainforest on the first day to Heaphy hut. Great spot for river swimming right at the huts front door. Pretty tough hill climb on day two. Gets easy from there though. Great huts to stay in. Take sandfly repellant for the west coast leg as they can be ferocious! (Think flying piranhas!) Had 3 days a beaut weather but it can close in quick so be prepared. Make sure you have some transport sorted from the northern end into Nelson before starting out.


Please respect the places you find on The Outbound Collective.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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