Introduction

Find out what you can expect on the track, what you need to take, and how to find the latest information about facilities you plan to use and local weather conditions.

Your safety is your responsibility. To have a great time in the outdoors, know before you go the five simple rules of the Outdoor Safety Code to help you stay safe:

  1. Plan you trip
  2. Tell someone
  3. Be aware of the weather
  4. Know your limits
  5. Take sufficient supplies

1. Plan your trip

Seek local knowledge, and plan the route you'll take and the amount of time you expect it to take.

It's important to plan, prepare and equip yourself well. Have the right gear and skills required for the trip and always check the latest information about facilities you plan to use and local weather conditions.

Walking seasons

You can walk the Heaphy Track all year. The most popular period is during the summer from Christmas through to Easter, but walking the track in autumn can be good option - there are fewer people on the track and the weather is often calm and settled.

Mountain biking is only permitted on the Heaphy Track from 1 May to 30 November each year.

Giardia

There is a small risk of giardia, we recommend that you treat water before you use it.

Other risks

Major hazards are generally managed on the track during the summer (October to April) but not those hazards that are off track or on side tracks.

Facilities and services

Transport, activity, equipment and accommodation businesses operate in the summer. Some businesses do not operate in winter.

Huts and campsites must be booked all year round. See Fees and bookings.

In summer (November to April) DOC rangers rotate among the huts, while in winter they are on the track or at the huts less frequently.

For the latest information, check for alerts/important notices on the Heaphy Track page, or contact:

Nelson Visitor Centre
Phone:   +64 3 546 9339
Address:   Millers Acre/Taha o te Awa
79 Trafalgar Street
Nelson 7010
Email:   nelsonvc@doc.govt.nz
Full office details

2. Tell someone

Tell someone your plans and leave a date to raise the alarm if you haven't returned.

The Outdoors Intentions process on the AdventureSmart website is endorsed by New Zealand's search and rescue agencies and provides three simple options to tell someone you trust the details about your trip.

Fill in the visitor’s book if you are staying in a hut. In summer (October to April), a resident DOC ranger is stationed at each hut and is able to pass on information about the area or assist should an emergency arise.

3. Be aware of the weather

New Zealand's weather can be highly unpredictable. Check the forecast and expect weather changes.

On the Heaphy Track the weather is changeable with annual rainfall averaging over 4000 mm. Heavy rain can occur with little warning and cause streams to flood - do not attempt to cross these when they are in flood. Be prepared for rain, snow and wind especially on the exposed sections of the track.

Climate
Weather information at Bainham (closest weather station to the Heaphy Track)
 Average daily high temp ˚CAverage daily low temp ˚CAverage number of rainy days
January 22 11 11
February 23 11 9
March 20 9 10
April 18 7 12
May 16 4 13
June 14 2 13
July 13 1 13
August 14 3 14
September 15 5 14
October 17 6 15
November 19 8 13
December 21 10 12

4. Know your limits

Challenge yourself within your physical limits and experience.

To do the trip you need to be reasonably fit and have good equipment to cover all possibilities.

The Heaphy Track is classed as an easy tramping track suitable for walkers with moderate fitness and limited experience. The track is mostly well formed and some sections maybe steep, rough or muddy. It has signs, poles or markers and major stream and river crossings are bridged.

You can expect to:

  • Walk or bike up to 3 - 5 hours a day and longer dependent on your fitness and trip
  • Carry a pack of up to 15 kg for 78.4 kms
  • For a 4 day trip, to walk up to 24 km per day
  • For a 5 day trip, to walk up to 21 km per day
  • Parts of the track to have a hard and uneven walking/biking surface

5. Take sufficient supplies

You must be sufficient: make sure you have enough food, clothing, equipment and emergency rations for the worst-case scenario. Take an appropriate means of communication such as personal locator beacon.

On the Heaphy Track be aware that:

  • Food is not available for purchase at any of the huts.
  • Generally cellphone coverage is poor and unreliable. At Aorere Shelter, on the beach near the Heaphy River mouth and along the coast track between the Heaphy Hut and Kohaihai Scotts Beach, coverage is usually available, although this depends on which telephone company you use.
  • There are no rubbish facilities on the track.Trampers are reminded there is a pack-in pack-out policy for all rubbish. All rubbish must be removed.

More information:

See: What to take

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