Heaphy Track: Exploring By Bike

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The Department of Conservation had recently extended the season for mountain biking the Heaphy Track. I made a plan to use a late-November long weekend, and go and check it out.

Packing for the trip

The Heaphy Track is about 79km long. You can do it north-south or south-north. It’s one of NZ’s most popular walking tracks in the Kahurangi National Park, north-west of the South Island.

Gear packed  for the Heaphy Track
Packed for the Heaphy Track!

Packing was saved for the day before and consisted of some essentials. Sandfly repellent, sunscreen, tyre repair kits, EPIRB, a sleeping bag, and as many snacks packed in as possible!

We chose to do the North-South route. There are multiple options for getting to the start of the track.

Our group was 10 guys from Christchurch, so we drove vehicles and met car re-locators in Motueka. They came with us to the start of the Heaphy Track (near Browns Hut).

Setting off on the Heaphy Track

We took about 15 minutes to get all our bikes and gear sorted. And we set off for the first stage, a climb to the Perry Saddle Hut at around 3 pm.

Perry Saddle Hut on the Heaphy Track
Perry Saddle Hut

The first leg was a grind. The good thing is that you’re excited about starting the track. So, in my opinion, it’s the best time to get the hard work out of the way.

We probably should have left a little earlier, as some of the group had issues with their bikes along the way. They ended up arriving in the dark, which wasn’t ideal!

The next day is when the real fun started. It was a mellow start across a tussocky plateau with some pretty sweet views, like the one below. We had a bit of cloud in the morning so it wasn’t until lunchtime where we could start to experience really great views. Just take a look at the photos!

View from high on the Heaphy Track

James Mackay Hut

One of the best moments of the Heaphy Track trip was having lunch at the James Mackay Hut, and being able to see the Heaphy River Mouth about 35kms away which is where we were staying that night.

Why was that so cool? Well, it’s 90% downhill, so it’s a stunning single track cruise down to your next destination. You’ll also be cruising alongside the Heaphy River (below).

The Heaphy Hut

The Heaphy River seen from the Heaphy Track
The Heaphy River

The Heaphy Hut would have to be one of the most stunning DOC huts I have stayed at.

It’s situated at the river mouth, so you get the best of the fresh water (swimming, trout) and ocean (Kahawai, wild waves) worlds.

Note: There is a marine reserve at the river mouth, so please be aware of the rules.

The river is perfect for swimming in after the bike ride. There are trout in there, too. I had my rod with a Toby lure but didn’t have any luck. They were even following it!

Heaphy River Mouth on the Heaphy Track
Heaphy River Mouth on the Heaphy Track

The Final Stretch

The next day was also amazing, a flat ride along the coast. We loved having the bikes, but you can see why hikers also love the Heaphy Track.

We struck it on a day where the surf was clean and the sun was out. We even had a pod of dolphins following alongside our group!

However, by this point in the trip, my iPhone had run out of battery so I couldn’t get any photos!

Heaphy River Mouth on the Heaphy Track
The view of the hut from the river mouth.

We made it to our pick-up point and headed for home. On reflection, I’m really glad we chose to bike in the direction we did. It means a hard slog, followed by an epic downhill ride.

If you get the chance I definitely recommend either biking or walking the Heaphy Track!