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.
Brown Hut to Perry Saddle Hut (17km, 5 hours)
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.
Perry Saddle Hut to Gouland Downs Hut (8km, 2 hours)
The track crosses Perry Saddle shortly after leaving Perry Saddle Hut and then continues along windswept plains.
Gouland Downs Hut to Saxon Hut (5km, 1½ hours)
The track crosses tussock plains for most of this section.
Saxon Hut to James Mackay Hut (14km, 3 hours)
This part of the track crosses the border between the Nelson-Tasman region and West Coast Region. The track gently climbs through the Mackay Downs and the ground can get boggy after rain.
James Mackay Hut to Lewis Hut (13.5km, 3½ hours)
The gradual descent to sea level begins after leaving James 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.
Lewis Hut to Heaphy Hut (8km, 2½ hours)
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.
Heaphy Hut to Kohaihai River Mouth (16.5km, 5 hours)
The final leg of the track follows the sea through nikau palm rainforest. This section offers a few opportunities to walk along the beach.