Debriefing: Heaphy Track

With just over 71 km, the Heaphy Track is the longest of the pedestrian Great Walks, and I use the word “pedestrian” advisedly, because the Whanganui River Journey, a Great Walk that can only be done by kayak/canoe, is twice as long, and the Heaphy is open for pedestrians only in the Great Walks Season (November – April). In the winter time it is a mountain bike track, so be warned.

Section (with links) Distance Track Time Break Mean speed Median time|distance Ascent Descent
Brown Hut Access – Perry Saddle 16.0 km 4:09 h 0:25 h 3.87 km/h 4.14|4.39 km/h 1408 m (D-) 670 m (M+)
Perry Saddle – James Mackay 21.3 km 5:04 h 1:49 h 4.21 km/h 4.47|4.67 km/h 609 m (M-) 778 m (E+)
James Mackay – Heaphy Hut 18.2 km 4:17 h 1:12 h 4.25 km/h 4.64|4.88 km/h 341 m (E+) 1033 m (M)
Heaphy Hut – Kohaihai Carpark 15.6 km 3:35 h 0:23 h 4.36 km/h 4.79|5.09 km/h 504 m (E+) 508 m (M-)
Totals 71.1 km 17:05 h 3:49 h 4.17 km/h 4.47|4.72 km/h 2892 m (M) 3020 m (M-)
Summary of the Heaphy Track. Climb categories are: Flat (< 1.9°/3.3%), Easy (> 1.9°/3.3%), Moderate (> 3.8°/6.6%), Demanding (> 7.5°/13%, < 15°/27%)

Heaphy Track speed distribution by time
Heaphy Track speed distribution by time, in this case 75% of the time spent on the track was at faster than 3.6 km/h
However, the nature of the walk is very much determined by its dual purpose as a tramping/biking track. The major ascent – from the Brown Hut access in the Brown valley to Perry Saddle Hut – barely just qualifies as being “D-”, and for the most part it is a comparatively gentle climb netting 830 m. The major descent from James Mackay to Heaphy Huts netts just on 700 m. Not only are the slopes much gentler than, say, the Dusky Track, but the path itself is for the most part well-formed and there is very little mud to wade through. And the speed distribution confirms it: 75% of the time on the Heaphy Track was traversed at speeds greater than 3.6 km/h. And I like to think that the daily increase in speed of around 0.1 km/h was due to progressive lightening of the pack… Read more…

33. Mackay – Heaphy (Heaphy Track 3/4)

Wednesday, March 15: Sunny right from the beginning with some residual cloud

Tramping: 18.2 km

Heaphy Hut (Doc, $32)

I was up at 7:00, the preorganised breakfast was quickly dealt with. As there was finally a view of the mouth of the Heaphy River that was stable, a bracketed pan was on the agenda, while the spot was sending its message. Had to put the tripod up on the table on the deck to get a reasonable view but no one was complaining.

Was able to leave just after 9:00 & catch up with everyone else in the course of the morning. Track was very flat, except for a couple of trees that had fallen over & had to be detoured. Was able to get a couple of shots of the track, an inquisitive weka, and the confluence of the Lewis & Heaphy Rivers. Lewis Hut was soon reached and that was time for lunch (just under three hours). Had a look around the river and thought I could take another bracketed pan of the bridge before heading off; only, finding the way back to the track (and onto the bridge) was a little adventurous, but possible. Read more…

32. Perry Saddle – Mackay (Heaphy Track 2/4)

Tuesday, March 14: Rain overnight, clearing to cloudy and reasonably warm, light showers in mid afternoon

Tramping: 21.3 km

James Mackay Hut (Doc, $32)

The two brothers I was sharing with turned out to be excellent snorers but I managed to get some sleep at some point though it wasn’t very much. They did stop every now & then so that helped a little.

A couple of kea tried waking us around dawn and someone’s alarm went off @ 6:00; about then I shut the dormitory door as people were starting to use the kitchen. I snoozed a little while and eventually decided it was time to get up. Breakfast was – new – four pieces of Ryvita, the cheese (100 g), butter for the rye slices, coffee was two spoons of Nescafe, one of sugar, what remained of the cream, and one egg with salt. (By the afternoon the egg carton had disintegrated completely and a number of eggs were cracked & losing their shells. Perhaps next time smaller eggs.) Everything packed up neatly and I was ready to go soon after 8:30. Read more…