“The first section of one of New Zealand's Great Walks.”
— Joan Pendleton
Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildlife
All huts and campsites must be booked in advance through the Department of Conservation. Campers in campsites are not allowed to use hut facilities.
Heaphy Track is a wide, well-maintained, and well-marked trail. All major streams have sturdy bridges. From May 1 to November 30 mountain bikes are allowed on Heaphy Track.
Heaphy Track starts at Brown Hut. There is an overnight parking area close to Brown Hut at the end of Aorere Valley Road.
From Brown Hut, the Heaphy Track crosses the Brown River almost immediately on a sturdy bridge. The trail then enters dense forest and begins to climb. The first eight miles are a continuous gradual climb as the trail meanders through the dense forest. Ferns abound in the dense forest and bird song provides constant background music. Sections of the trail run close to the Aorere River and its tributaries. Although it is hard to see the river and streams through the dense vegetation, the rushing water can be heard.
Occasional sections where the trees thin, provide spectacular views of the Tasman Mountains across the Aorere River Valley that runs far below the trail. About three miles from the Heaphy Track trailhead, the Shakespeare Flat Track branches off from Heaphy Track - stay to the right to follow Heaphy Track here (this is well marked). About 7.5 miles from the Heaphy Track trailhead, the Aorere Shelter is reached. There is water, camping, and a toilet at Aorere Shelter. After another half mile, one reaches the high point of the Heaphy Track, eight miles from the Heaphy Track trailhead.
From the high point of Heaphy Track, eight miles from its trailhead, Heaphy Track is relatively flat for the last 2.1 miles to Perry Saddle Hut. At this higher altitude, the trees are shorter and now less dense. Perry Saddle Hut comes into view about a half mile away when approaching it, a welcome sight after the long uphill journey. Perry Saddle Hut is a modern 28 bunk hut with gas stoves and solar powered lighting. There are also campsites at Perry Saddle Hut.