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    Posted February 13, 2014 by
    Wellington, New Zealand
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Your images of New Zealand’s South Island

    NZ Great Walk - The Heaphy Track

    This year my partner and I made a pact. We would spend Christmas doing something active. Why I hear you ask!? Well, we did the traditional kiwi Christmas last year which consisted of sun, beach and booze. Christmas day was great but with another week off work, we felt like we didn’t use our time as ‘productively’ as one might. We thought we had the solution this year. We would leave Wellington behind and head to the South Island to complete one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, The Heaphy Track. This 3-4 night, 80k tramp has been on our to-do-list for a while and now felt like the perfect time to tick it off. Whilst we we’re at it we decided to add to the challenge and cycle from Picton to Nelson, something else on the list. Two birds with one stone.

    With motivation high we set a good pace, weaving our way up and up heading to Perry Hut, our first destination for the first night. We we’re hoping to pitch our tent but it soon became evident, as the intensity of the rain increased, that this wouldn’t be possible. Luckily, due to the poor weather forecast a number of people had chosen to pull out, so there was plenty of space at the Department of Conservation hut. It’s quite the hut too. Think 3 bedrooms and a huge kitchen and living area. It’s really quite luxurious. Settled in for the night, watching the rain fall and chatting with fellow trampers, the DOC ranger reveals a Santa sack that he had carried up! He shared the chocolate treats among everyone in the hut, what a lovely touch!

    The following day, Christmas Day, we continue onward to James Mackay hut. The rain had eased a little, revealing incredible views down through the valley and the almighty Dragon Teeth Mountains. Beautiful. We walk through enchanted forest, which could be straight out of Lord of the Rings (it had to be mentioned!) with tussocks, limestone formations, streams, rivers and waterfalls all adding to the sheer beauty of this walk. 6 hours later, slightly damp but feeling alive, we arrive at the hut, a more traditional DOC hut, simple yet functional and cosy down for the rest of the night. As a bonus a fellow tramper puts her pancake making skills to the test and everyone is soon tucking into banana pancakes whilst trying to master new and unheard of card games.

    The following section of the tramp was 20k. This would finish up at our final hut, The Heaphy Hut. Lewis Hut in the middle. We decided to up the ante a little and jog, where the track permitted of course otherwise utilising a swift walk. We passed maybe 15 people on the track, each and every one of them giving us their best acquisitive and confused look. We arrived at Lewis Hut, approx. the midway point of our section today in approx. 2 hours, feeling chuffed with our achievement. After lunch we settle into a more relaxed pace, absorbing the stunning scenery and taking photographs.

    You’ll never believe it but the rain had stopped. We took advantage of this and pitched our tent quickly, chasing curious Weka off who we’re intrigued by anything and everything whilst we also tried our best to avoid being eaten alive by sand-flies. Yes, they absolutely love the West Coast too. The rain stops and they come out. Rain, please return! I soon realised that I shouldn’t have said that. The rain did return and I soon wished that I hadn’t pitched the tent on a slope. I endured an unsatisfying sleep, with rain, weka and sand-flies all doing their best to get into the tent! However, we had used the tent and I was feeling very satisfied that I hadn’t carried it for no reason.

    The final leg was incredible as it followed the coast for hours and hours, crossing beautiful beaches and forests. Slowly but surely you start to pass fresh faced trampers walking in from the other end of the track and realise you must be getting close. It’s really helps to give you that extra boost of motivation to get you over the finish line.

    Several hours later we we’re in Karemea’s local pub treating ourselves to whitebait fritters and a handle of Speights beer, which is reward enough. The whitebait is fantastic! We tick The Heaphy Track off our mental to-do-list, done. You really cannot do The Heaphy Track justice with words alone. It’s something that you must experience for yourself to truly appreciate.
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