NELSON TO PERRY SADDLE HUT
DAY 1 - HEAPHY TRACK: 17.5 km (10.9 mi)
Your day will start bright and early this morning, ready to get to the start of the track. You will be picked up at your accommodation in Nelson and travel to Brown Hut (beginning of the track) in a comfortable vehicle. On the way you will be rewarded with some great views over the famous Abel Tasman National Park and Golden Bay. After a coffee break in the lovely country town of Takaka you will head toward the start of the track. Your guide will give you a final briefing on what to expect of the mountain biking journey and you will be given a plate, cup and utensil set for your use during the holiday along with your very own snack pack.
The cycling starts off through regenerating manuka and kanuka bush, soon changing to the lush beech tree dominated Aorere valley. Look out for the views of the Aorere River and the Dragons Teeth on the Douglas Mountain range. During the lunch stop, keep an eye open for curious tom tits and robins which may be perched on a branch or trunk scanning for insects or a misplaced crumb!
After a steady day’s cycling to the track’s highest point at 910 metres (2986 feet), Perry Saddle hut will be your new home for the night. The guides will prepare a delicious evening meal while you’re sorting your sleeping place. Time to relax! As you fall asleep tonight keep one ear open for the haunting calls of the Great Spotted Kiwi.
Meals: Afternoon snack, dinner
Accommodation: Perry Saddle Hut - 1 night
PERRY SADDLE HUT TO JAMES MACKAY HUT
DAY 2 - HEAPHY TRACK: 24.2 km (15 mi)
The journey is heading west today, initially through a sub alpine world of stunted mountain and silver beech trees, hebes and manuka. After about half an hour of cycling you will have the view over the vast plain known as Gouland Downs. As you’re pedalling along the trail you may be lucky enough to see the rare blue duck (or Whio), the elusive fern bird, or perhaps the majestic native New Zealand falcon.
The track passes the famous boot pole, gently undulating across the downs, and climbing gradually to a lunch stop at Saxon Hut. From Saxon Hut, you can gaze out from the deck back east towards Perry Saddle and the Downs that we have just traversed. This marks the edge of the Mackay Downs.
The track from the Saxon Hut toward the James Mackay Hut crosses through the Mackay Downs, crossing several small streams which wind on to the edge of the Downs before tumbling downward to the Heaphy River. The track here is also interesting as you will start to see the impressive pink coloured Karamea granite, a crystal-rich mix of quartz, mica and feldspar. The night will be spend in the James Mackay Hut.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
Accommodation: James Mackay Hut - 1 night
JAMES MACKAY HUT TO THE HEAPHY HUT
DAY 3 - HEAPHY TRACK: 20.5 km (12.7 mi)
In the morning it is time to hit the trail again. You will bike through a great cross section of New Zealand flora, from sub alpine species on the tops, through stunted beech, and then down into ancient Podocarp forest from the Mackay Hut . Within twenty minutes of the open views from Mackay hut you will under a thirty metre high canopy that towers over. As the trail descends toward the confluence of the Lewis and Heaphy Rivers. Occasionally fallen trees give rise to tantalizing glimpses of the Heaphy below, allowing you to measure your progress to river level. There are some great glimpses of the river as biking down this section, and as the track gets lower you can start to see the magnificent Nikau Palms that this section of the West Coast is famous for. At the confluence of Heaphy and Lewisn you will have your hearty lunch.
After lunch, leave this picturesque location where the Lewis hut balances on the fork of the two rivers, and head off to an even more impressive location, the Heaphy River Mouth. The environment from here undergoes yet another drastic change; as you pedalling along the riverside the towering Nikau Palms give the surrounds a truly tropical feel. You can see the strange formation of the layered limestone karst rock formations appear near the coast.
About 2 hours after Lewis hut, you will arrive at the Heaphy Beach. This is one of the highlights of this journey, because of its stunning location. Here at the river mouth you are greeted with the impressive west coast beach and its rolling surf. With the Nikau Palms clustered around, curious weka, and deer prints to be found in the sandy beach close by, you’ll definitely feel like you are in the wilderness. You’ll have the rest of the afternoon to relax or explore before the final gourmet dinner of the trip and hopefully a magical West Coast sunset for dessert!
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks
Accommodation: Heaphy Hut - 1 night
THE WILD WEST COAST TO NELSON
DAY 4 - HEAPHY TRACK: 16.2 km (10 mi)
Today, you will get up bright and early, preparing yourself for a 16km journey through the most spectacular part of the walk, the wild West Coast. As you skirt the shoreline there are opportunities to cycle along the beach for some sections. Although hard on the legs it does indulge the other senses, the roar of the waves, the salt in the air and the occasional shag drying its wings in a magnificent hung salute. The track winds in and out of the Nikau Palms with the many varieties of coastal plants clustered around their trunks. Today the journey will also crosses over some picturesque bridges spanning impressively steep creeks and rivers that spill directly into the Tasman Sea.
Toward midday you will have one final push up and over the Kohaihai saddle, a climb of approximately 30 minutes, before descending to the end of the track where the comfortable motor vehicle is waiting for you for a celebratory lunch. It’s then time for the start of the journey back to Nelson. After a coffee stop in Westport you will see the course of the mighty Buller River through to Murchison, before the final leg over Hope Saddle and into Nelson. You will be dropped to your accommodation for a well-deserved shower, ready to explore the many dining options the town has to offer.
Meals: Breakfast, lunch, and snacks