Heaphy Track Frequently Asked Questions

See also our Blog: Everything Under the Sun for useful information and hints on walking and riding the Heaphy Track

What are the average track times?

From To km Walk hr Bike hr
Brown Hut Perry Saddle 17.5 5
Perry Saddle Gouland Downs 7.0 2 2
Gouland Downs Saxon 5.4
Saxon James McKay 11.8 3 2
James McKay Lewis Shelter 12.5 2
Lewis Shelter Heaphy 8.0
Heaphy Kohaihai 16.2 5 3
Kohaihai Karamea 16.0 Shuttle bus 20min 1

What do Mountain Bikers need to know?

The Heaphy Track is open to mountain bikers from 1 May-30 November each year.

To book flights, shuttles or packages with bikes, please contact us as bikes cannot be booked online.

Golden Bay Air uses bike trailers for its shuttle transport and for flights we provide wheel and bike bags to pack up and protect your bikes during the flight. We stow the bags side by side in the aircraft, with wheels removed and stored separately. For flights, please present bikes in a clean state with wheels and baggage removed and seat post lowered. Pedals do not need to be removed.

Note that e-bikes cannot be carried on any aircraft unless the battery can be removed and not flown. Passengers wishing to have e-bikes transported should select our return shuttle bus options.

Please keep the following DOC conditions in mind:

  • No night riding. Riding is only permitted 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Mid-winter daylight is as short as 9 hours
  • Maximum group size is six
  • Keep the huts and verandahs bike-free
  • Keep to the designated track—further exploration by foot only
  • Know your fitness level and ability
  • Be prepared—you should take the gear you'll need if something goes wrong
  • Be flexible and delay your trip in bad weather—DOC may close the track after heavy rain or snow
  • Watch out for walkers, and ride with extra caution on downhill sections
  • Follow the Mountain Bikers' Code

How do I book accommodation on the track?

The Department of Conservation operates huts and campsites on the Heaphy. These need to be booked prior to departure and tickets must be shown to hut wardens on request. Bookings can be made online at the Department of Conservation website. We advise that you check availability for your preferred dates before booking your flights and shuttles.

How do I get from Kohaihai Shelter to Karamea or Karamea Aerodrome?

Biker riding along the Kohaihai to Karamea gravel section, lined with Nikau PalmsKohaihai Shelter is 16km from Karamea.

Shuttles between Kohaihai and Karamea are operated by Karamea Express 03 782 6757 or info@karamea-express.co.nz. We can book the shuttle on your behalf which gives us knowledge of your movements which helps with planning for bad weather backups.

Our walking packages include the Kohaihai shuttle booking.

The shuttle is available to walkers and mountainbikers (bikes are an additional charge). Most bikers choose to ride rather than take a shuttle. The first 4km of the road is gravel but the rest is sealed and there are no hills to climb!

What happens if the weather is bad?

The weather on the Heaphy Track can be unsettled and unpredictable any time of year. Sections of the track itself can be closed at short notice.

Flights into Karamea can be disrupted by the weather. Depending on the situation, we will adjust flight times or provide alternate transport where possible (either on the day of travel or the day after) in adverse weather, but it is worth building some flexibility into your trip. For example, consider planning a little extra time to enjoy Takaka or Karamea. We also suggest that if you are connecting with flights from other airlines that you book flexible fares or you purchase their insurance option or purchase your own travel insurance, enabling a claim in case of a missed connection.

Golden Bay Air does not cover the cost of accommodation or other expenses due to any delay. If we provide alternative ground transport, we may offer a partial refund. This will be calculated based on Golden Bay Air's shuttle charter rates divided by number of people travelling on the same leg.

DOC will refund/amend hut bookings if you cannot access the track or it is closed due to bad weather.

Should I take camping gas/fuel?

All huts except Brown Hut and Gouland Downs Hut have gas cookers with gas supplied. Campers must take their own cooking gear and fuels. Camping fuels are hazardous substances and cannot be carried on aircraft. We can provide camping gas and fuel at cost when you arrive in Takaka or Karamea by prior arrangement.

Is there phone reception on the track?

If you are catching a Golden Bay Air flight or shuttle, we ask that you call us on 0800 588 885 or 03 525 8725 when you exit the Heaphy Track. There is now cell reception at Brown Hut and carpark and on the track up to Aorere Shelter. There is cell reception on the beach in front of Heaphy Hut and a various points along the coast to Kohaihai and at Kohaihai carpark itself. Landlines have been removed from Brown Hut and Kohaihai Shelter.

What is there to do in Golden Bay?

There is plenty to keep you entertained in sunny Golden Bay. Enjoy many local artists' galleries and cafes or explore the spectacular scenery in Abel Tasman National Park, Farewell Spit or the Cobb Valley. Or just relax at the beach. Check out our comprehensive list of fantastic Golden Bay and Abel Tasman Activities or visit the Golden Bay Visitor Centre for things to do, and places to stay and eat. Golden Bay Air offers rental cars to help you get around.

What is there to do in Karamea?

After your hike or ride, why not stay a while in Karamea? A visit to the incredible Oparara is a must. Or go heli-rafting, kayaking or fishing. Karamea has a number of fantastic new mountain bike tracks to keep bikers smiling. Or just relax. There are plenty of accommodation options available. Information is available from the Karamea Information Centre.

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