Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

Trip Start Jan 14, 2008
Trip End Feb 21, 2008

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Flag of New Zealand  ,
Wednesday, January 30, 2008

After five days and nights camping on the Heaphy Track in Kahurangi National Park, all we can say is WOW--what a beautiful and varied landscape. We covered 82 km (50 mi), climbed to 950 meters, and crossed from the east to the rugged west coast, ending at the beach on the Tasman Sea. Much of the forest we passed through early on could have been in the Smokies if you replaced some of the plants with rhododendron; lots of springs, creeks, dripping moss, and rooty track, although the track itself was much better maintained than in our national park. Those of a certain age will recall a particular children's picture book read regularly on Captain Kangaroo which tells the story of a camel who takes a walk through a jungle and the potential chain of events involving other forest creatures that in the end does not happen. I never learned the title or the author of that book, but I was continually reminded of its illustrations on the second half of our tramp. NZ has one distinctive native species of palm that forms a cathedral-like canopy in the bush. And then there were the Downs--miles of red-brown tussock and tannin stained creeks. Steve Longenecker, our raptor expert friend, would be interested in the plight of the NZ falcon, now endangered because of the declining bird population, which is being decimated by stoats (much like weasels, introduced to control the rabbit population), and possoms (not like ours; introduced in the late 1800s for the fur trade). Falcons now have little to eat. The Department of Conservation, affectionately known as "DOC" here, has instituted a program for poisoning both these mammals: they drop poisons for possoms from helicopters, and they have stoat traps baited with eggs and meat at what seems like 100 meter intervals on the track.

One of the pleasures of this tramp was meeting Ian (78) and Stan (80), two retired NZ school principals from the North Island, both doing the Heaphy for the first time, who inspired and educated us the entire way with bits of NZ history and info on Maori culture and language. Our tarp again saved us, as we cooked and ate our second evening meal in a deluge which lasted hours. For the most part, though, the weather was fine. We are truly happy campers.

Mary Ellen

Sidney's Take-- As Mom said, the Heaphy was great. We watched birds, enjoyed Dr. Seuss- like "Truffula trees" that actually resembled them, and got bitten by THE SANDFLIES!! They're a voracious lot, and I now look like I have chicken pox. Now we're relaxing, and eating (as we fantasized on the trail) greasy chips (fries), biscuits (cookies), and Ice Cream. Sadly, no strawberry ripple. We had been speculating on the elections, and now that we know that Obama won SC by a landslide, beating Hillary 2-1, we think things are looking brighter. Yeah, I do pay attention to politics. Anyway, that's about all from overseas. Now to Dad...

82k. 5 days. Sunshine, warm, cold, sandflies, gorgeous views, rain, sore feet, tired legs, icy baths. Rain forests, river crossings on wire bridges, attacks by ferocious oyster catchers, attacks by more ferocious sandflies. Mountain crossings, pounding surf, crazy bird songs. Two old men who weren't old at all. Germans, Brits, Aussies, Kiwis, dishonest Californians and us.--jp
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dannyhiker on

Sandflies still there after all those years
Hello folks:
Sounds like you had the real Heaphy experience. Great scenery and busy sandflies. Did you get to swim anyplace?
Mary Ellen, I read your great article in Our State. Nicely done.
It's real winter here and it's messing up everyone's hiking. So keep on tramping for us.
By the way, have you tried the **golden** kiwifruit yet? They're very difficult to get here but should be plentiful in New Zealand, now.

nz2008 on

Re: Sandflies still there after all those years
We did get to swim in the Heaphy River when we reached that hut--a welcome dip! We also took a very cold bath at the 'mountain spa' at Perry Saddle--10 C degrees! Thanks for the tip on the golden kiwi fruit--we got some today, but haven't tried them.

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