|You'll stay in comfortable trampers' huts and be lulled to sleep with birdsong. The walk is fully guided, so walk, relax, and enjoy!
Day 1: Motueka to Perry Saddle Hut
Motueka to the start of the track in the Aorere Valley in Golden Bay. The road takes us over the renowned Takaka Hill, also known as ‘Marble Mountain’ for its huge outcrops of limestone marble rock. We then travel down the beautiful Takaka Valley, through the township of the same name, then turn inland to the Aorere Valley.
The track commences at Brown River and climbs on a well graded track through lowland then podocarp-beech forest. We reach the highest point on the track (910m) approximately 40 minutes from our destination for the night - Perry Saddle Hut (a distance of 17 km - 6 hours). From the hut there are spectacular views of the distant saw-toothed Douglas Range and the Dragon’s Teeth.
Day 2: Perry Saddle Hut to Saxon Hut
Entering the Gouland Downs.
An easy day of flat to undulating walking. First through kamahi-beech-quintinia forest, then across the rolling tussock grass lands of the Gouland Downs - a peneplain.
We stop at the historic Gouland Downs Hut for lunch, then continue through the ‘Enchanted Forest’. This is a limestone remnant with beech forest.
On across the Downs, we walk through more magic forest with Dracophyllum traversii and D. townsonii.
Our destination, Saxon Hut, is situated in tussock country. (A distance of 13 km - approx. 3 1/2 hours walking time, but we will be taking most of the day observing things along the way).
Day 3: Saxon Hut to Lewis Hut
The lush forest opens to a distant view of the Heaphy River mouth. This day may be done in two sections or an overnight option at Mackay is possible. Check with your guide as to your route.
In the morning we leave the Gouland Downs, and gently wind our way up and over to the edge of the Mackay Downs, then onto the Mackay Hut for our lunch break. Here we have glimpses of the Tasman Sea and tomorrow’s destination at the Heaphy mouth.
If you are overnighting at Mackay, a visit to the ‘tops’ above the hut is an afternoon option. Expansive and panoramic vistas around the mountains and out to the Tasman Sea may be viewed.
If continuing to Lewis Hut today, we encounter a different flora habitat once again, with the banks along the track covered with mosses and a huge diversity of other plants. The geology changes to granite country itinerary cont’d
with wonderful outcrops. We descend to the Heaphy valley floor. The track winds gradually down through ever changing forest with new species being added constantly, until the first nikau palm appears and the forest takes on a jungle-like appearance. The Lewis Hut is situated on the confluence of the Heaphy and Lewis Rivers. From Saxon Hut to Lewis Hut is 24 km, approx. 7 - 8 hours.
Day 4: Lewis Hut to Heaphy Hut
On the way to Lewis Hut we encounter a different flora habitat once again, with the banks along the track covered with mosses and a huge diversity of other plants. The geology changes to granite country with wonderful outcrops. We descend to the Heaphy valley floor, as the track winds gradually down through ever changing forest with new species being added constantly, until the first nikau palm appears and the forest takes on a jungle like appearance. The Lewis Hut is situated on the confluence of the Heaphy and Lewis Rivers.
From Lewis Hut, the Heaphy River approaches the West Coast of New Zealand. Only an 8 km - 2 1/2 hours walking. But a longer time may be taken as there is so much to see. After crossing the Heaphy swing bridge, the mixed lowland rainforest flora and the limestone outcrops cannot be rushed. There is little of this forest type left in New Zealand. We follow the river all the way to the mouth, arriving at Heaphy Hut.
Day 5: Heaphy Hut to Karamea
For the entire day the track hugs the coast and goes in and out of nikau and karaka groves beside pounding surf beaches. We stop for a picnic lunch en route to our finish at Kohaihai. There is magnificent scenery all the way (16 km., 5 - 6 hours).
Day 6: Karamea to Nelson
**This tour is run in conjunction with another operator.
On the morning of day 6 we will leave Karamea in our own transport at approx. 9 to 10:00am for the 5 1/2 hour scenic drive to Motueka or Nelson. This route will take you down the Northern West Coast to Westport, then through the picturesque Buller Gorge.
We will be stopping en route at Murchison for a light lunch. Arrival time in Nelson will be approx. 3 to 3:30pm, so it is advisable not to book a flight out of Nelson until after 4:30pm in the event of unforeseen circumstances delaying our return.
Any excess luggage left behind in Motueka whilst you are on the track, will be awaiting you at the Karamea Hotel, where we finish the walk.