“A trail with stunning scenery, alternating between tussock fields and shrub fringed beech forest.”
— Alan Eskrick
Features: River/Creek — Views
Dogs: No Dogs
From Saxon Hut the track drops slightly to grassy flats beside the Saxon River and then climbs gently up to a broad ridge, which joins Gouland Downs to Mackay Downs.
The track now skirts the edge of Mackay Downs to James Mackay Hut, winding in and out of several small streams, just before they tumble off the downs and fall to the Heaphy River on the left. The vegetation is alternately tussock field and shrub-fringed patches of beech forest. Small creeks dissect the landscape and the pink granite sparkles and crunches beneath your feet.
This section of track has been repaired by the Department of Conservation, who have done a great job of fixing boggy sections which has made running a lot more enjoyable.
11.8 km from Saxon Hut, James Mackay Hut is situated just above the track on an open terrace. James MacKay Hut was built in 2014 and is the newest hut on the Heaphy Track. It has double-glazed windows, solar lighting, wood stove, gas-cooking facilities, toilets, and fresh water and is clean, tidy, cosy and comfortable. On a clear day the Tasman Sea and Heaphy River mouth can be seen from here, 15 km to the west and 750 m below.