Here is Hayden’s (Club Pres) recent report from the Heaphy
We took on this adventure mid-June, over two days. We were incredibly lucky with the weather, 1 week of sunshine beforehand, and clear skies, but… damn it was cold (well… for an Aucklander..). Incredible ride and a true adventure with a bit of everything, dense native forest, tussock plains, smooth single-track and some tricky rocky sections for good measure. A must do ride!
Team assembled at Nelson Airport. Josh, Rob, Alan, Jim, Hayden. We loaded up our van, Collingwood bound, to stay the night the Herons Nest B&B.
We woke to a chilly morning, and a champion breakfast, a couple of choices of cereal, fresh coffee to my highlight.. homemade bread and preserves mmmm… Next stop, meeting Martin from Quiet Revolution, he led us to the start and took our van round to the end of the trails.
We arrived at the start with clear skies but the sun wasn’t yet up. Time to setup the bikes. Yikes it was hard with cold hands, and cold metal. In no time at all we were posing at the start of the track, the sun was peaking though the mountains and we we’re off on our adventure!
Browns Hut to Perry Saddle Hut – 17km
No mucking around, we were straight into the biggest climb on the trail, 200m – 900m over 15km. It had a surprisingly steady grade, with the odd rocky section to test the skills. We had a taster of the views on the way up. Quick stop at Aoere hut to check out the view over Golden Bay. After some more climbing we made it to Flannagans corner, highest point on the track at around 900m. No clouds in the sky, a dusting of snow on the ground, the views were unreal.
Perry Saddle Hut to Saxton Hut – 12km
This next section to Gouland Downs Hut was the highlight for us, heading downwards, great flowing double track, again the odd rocky section to keep us honest. Then… next minute we were surrounded by open tussock plains, the views were unreal.
Not long after we had our first taster of the swing bridges, Josh leading the charge but not making it look easy, but he soon refined his technique. The rest of us cleared the small stream with ease, keeping our feet dry, just..
By this stage we were getting hungry, aiming for Saxton Hut for lunch. We were all in awe of the scenery, after a while we came off the tussock plans, into a dense mossy native section. Another character of the Heaphy..
We arrived at Saxon, time for lunch, checking out the view and a cheeky little Weka investigating the bikes.
Saxton Hut to James McKay Hut – 12km
Another stunning section, this place must not get much sun, we were riding past icicles on the side of the track at 2 in the arvo…
In no time we were at the Hut, great views with the Tasman Sea and the mouth of the Heaphy River in the distance.
James McKay Hut.
Finally we arrived at the hut. First priority, heat… Al was onto stocking the fireplace right away. Great night, tall stories from the day riding, an interesting mix of back country meals, and Monopoly Deal (one of the best card games invented), the amateurs cleaned up.
Some laughs carried around the hut when comparing sleeping bags. Josh’s unfortunately was more suited to the tropics we reckoned. He spent much of the night right next to the fire, with 100 layers of clothing. He didn’t get the best sleep but was witness to a few Kiwi’s rustling about outside.
McKay Hut to Heaphy Hut – 21km
What a descent!! As we we’re heading down the forest got more dense, the trail was unreal!! Fast in sections, flowing and loads of line choices (note, don’t follow Rob’s… haha).
Once down at Lewis there were a few decent swing bridges to navigate. Great ride along the Heaphy River down to Heaphy Hut. We made it to the West Coast!!.
Heaphy Hut to the End – 16km
Again the scenery changed, close your eyes and your in Fiji, surrounded by palms and riding on sand!
I’d thought it was to be an easy ride out, but no.. There were a couple of sections where we had to walk our bikes across the beach (although Rob put a valiant effort, riding close to the tide, it chased him up the beach a few times).
We were almost at the finish, but the track had one last challenge in store for us after Scott’s Beach. A little climb up to Kohaihai Bluff, a challenge after two days of riding.
After packing up the bikes it was off to Karamea, re-fuel with, coffee, great homemade pies, and some of the best ham cheese and pineapple toasted sandwiches most of us had tried. While we were digging into the food the rain closed in outside. The perfect end to the perfect ride!
Highly recommend the trip to anyone, the weather made if for us. A truly special part of the NZ, amazing variety in trails and surroundings.
Cheers to Josh, Jim, Rob and Alan for the company and entertainment!!
Recommend the following sites for more info:Department of Conservation Nelson MTB Club