The Heaphy Track, one of New Zealand’s “Great Walks” is now open to mountain bikers from May 1 to September 30 for a three-year trial period staring in 2011 and is set to also become a Great Ride for people of all ages.
The Heaphy Track offers the only multi-day cycle course through a national park in New Zealand. The track is 82 kilometres long and traverses the Kahurangi National Park from Collingwood in the north of the South Island to Karamea on the West Coast.
The track is well-formed all-weather track and has seven well-appointed Department of Conservation huts along the way. The huts are warm, dry and comfortable with bunk beds, wood-fired heaters, rainwater tanks, toilets and five have gas-cooking facilities. All rivers and major streams along the track have suspension bridges, but there may be some small creeks and watercourses that will require fording, please take care when crossing the bridges and water crossings. It is necessary to book huts, to do so, please visit the DOC Heaphy Track Web site (www.doc.govt.nz) or regional i-Sites or visitor centres.
Along the way, riders and trampers pass through a diverse range of spectacular scenery from lush beech forest up to 950 metres to Perry Saddle Hut, through the expansive tussock plains of the Gouland Downs and down again along the Heaphy River and on to the stunning nikau palm groves where the West Coast meets the roaring Tasman Sea.
Riders should be well prepared for inclement weather conditions as the region is known for sudden storms, associated floods, occasional snow falls and strong winds, as well as for sunshine, clear blue skies and warm, calm days. Please carry wet weather gear and warm clothing as well as sun protection, first-aid kits, plenty of water, food supplies as well as spare parts, puncture repair kits etc. Be prepared for all eventualities, as it is a long way from the middle of the track if help is required and it is important that riders take responsibility for their own safety and wellbeing.
Most trampers travel from the Collingwood end and finish the track in Karamea and riders will likely do the same, but there is no rule as to which way the track is travelled. Several transport services can deliver riders to the beginning of the track from Collingwood and then from the Kohaihai Shelter at the end of the track to Karamea where a hot showers, cold beer, great food and a comfortable beds await riders and trampers alike after conquering the Heaphy.
The Heaphy Track will be a dual-use facility open to both mountain bikers and trampers during the winter months, so please respect the rights of each group to utilise the track and enjoy the facilities, experience and adventure
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