My First Great Walk: The Heaphy Track

Isabelle Galko
August 20, 2019

The ultimate tramping experiences in New Zealand are the Great Walks. These treks are famous for their length, the beautiful scenery, and the diversity in tracks. As several of my Auckland friends and I love to hike and camp, we traveled down to the South Island this weekend to do the Heaphy Track. Along the west coast of the South Island, we planned to take four days to hike the 78 km across mountains, plains, and beaches.

Day One: Equipped with tents, sleeping bags, warm clothes, and enough food for all four days, we started the trek in the late morning. This was one of the shorter days of about 17.5 km climbing up into the bush. It was quite foggy out and the clouds were quite low-hanging as we trekked to the first hut. As we arrived, it started raining quite hard and we decided to stay in the hut that night instead of pitching tents. A much warmer choice!

Day Two: Our longest and toughest day on the track! It drizzled most of the day as we left the forest and crossed the plains to the next camping site. It was still quite foggy, and we had several high creek crossings from the rain. We completed the 24 km of the day before sunset and ate a warm dinner. Several Kia (native birds that were very curious about our gear!) accompanied us at the camp sites as we settled in for the night.

Day Three: After a super cold night (we woke up with frost on our tents), we started the downhill part of the trek, down through the forest and out to the beaches of the west coast. The weather was beautiful and sunny, which made it much warmer for us. As our group was quite quick with hiking and took few breaks, we made it to the Heaphy Hut around mid-afternoon and pitched tents on the sloping grass that led down to the expansive beaches along the coast. We played cards and explored the beach before eating a warm dinner and getting a good night's sleep before our last day.

Day Four: Another beautiful day walking along the coast. Surrounded by palm trees and beaches, we felt like we were on a tropical island. We took a few breaks to sit in the sand, eat trail mix, and take a dip in the ocean! We reached the end of the track a few hours later and finally put our packs down after four days of trekking. Thankfully, it was our last and easiest day of hiking before heading back to Auckland. We spent the night in Westport, ate a lot of pizza, and flew back to Auckland the next morning.

The Heaphy Track was a fun and sometimes challenging adventure, but I’m excited to say I’ve completed my first Great Walk! We hiked outside of the tramping season in New Zealand, so there were very few other people on the track, and it was very cold some nights but definitely worth it. While I’m in New Zealand, I hope to complete as many of the Great Walks as possible. 

Happy hiking!


More Blogs From This Author

View All Blogs