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The goRide team’s ‘great’ mountain biking adventure on the Heaphy Track

By Jo 2 years agoNo Comments

We did it! –  A biking group of 4 adults rode the Heaphy Track over 2 days and 1 night with a SMILE. 78km of fabulous back country trail.

Reading stories about cycling adventures helps to
connect you to other women who ride and makes you think about what you and/or your family could achieve.  Its that little piece of advice, or that must do, or must stay, that helps with the planning and preparation and helps make your adventure successful and special.

Read the details about our planning and preparation of a successful multi-day mountain biking adventure on the Heaphy Track. Want to know more about how to have a ‘great’ multi-day mountain biking adventure then read our GUIDE.

WOW! They talk about the diversity of the Heaphy Track from rainforest to flat lands, from mountains to coastal, and your exposure to that diversity is heightened because on the bike you move through those changes so quickly. The track was wonderfully rideable with few places requiring you to get off and walk. The hut facilities are great and DOC has done a great job taking the mountain biker into consideration.

Day One – Tips and Tales

Browns River Hut through to James Mackay Hut = 38.8 km

With a longish day ahead it was important that we got an early start. We stayed with friends in Bainham (thanks for your hospitality Barbara and Simon – 30km away from the Heaphy) so a quick drive and we were into securing gear to our bikes at about 7:30am (while we did the sandfly slap dance). If you are staying at Browns Hut before starting the track … note you are sharing this space with the sandflies.

The ride up to Perry Saddle 17.5km is a sustained up hill climb. It is a good gradient for riding. The track is very rocky and a lot of  power and strength was needed a number of times to get your front wheel up and over stones and rocks. The rocky terrain required a lot of negotiating of obstacles and focus on your chosen riding line. We stopped for food and water at the Aorere Saddle before heading to Perry Hut saddle. We were pleasantly surprised to find the high point of 915m Flanagans Corner (if time allows walk the sidetrack to the lookout) a couple of km before Perry Saddle Hut… so our sustained climbing was done for the day. Lunch at Perry Hut saddle…yum. It was then time to enjoy the tussock lands as we biked through the tops on our way to James Mackay Hut. From enjoying stunning weather over lunch it wasn’t too long before we hit some rain which continued through to the hut.


Bags packed and secured to our bikes ready to start


The rocky terrain on the way to Perry Saddle Hut


Still climbing


Flangans Corner the highest point on the track. All down hill form here! In theory.


Had lunched at Perry Saddle ready to enjoy the next part of the track


Riding through the tussocklands of Gouland Downs


Just spotted Blue Ducks (only found in NZ) …so cool!


A reminder that we are in the back country and on the Heaphy. From starting the day in gorgeous sun shine to finishing the day in rain.

Day Two – Tips and Tales

James MacKay to Kohaihai River mouth (track end) = 39.2km

Being all early risers we were the first from the hut to hit the trail. Although we started the day in low cloud it wasn’t long until the cloud lifted and we were blessed with a great day. This day was about heading down to the coast and then along the coast to track end. The track is a fun descent with lots of corners and a few rocky creeks to negotiate, along with swing and suspension bridges to cross. In fact one of them is the longest in the world. The rocky creeks contributed to a puncture but the new fantastic hand pump that I had recently purchased meant I could change the tire without any hassle. The beech forest turns into stunning Nikau palm groves and the ride along the rugged West Coast coastline to finish, just cements the diversity of the track.


Up early in the hut and all ready to enjoy Day 2.


The stunning Nikau Palms


The longest Swing Bridge


Outside the stunning Heaphy Hut


Heading away from the Heaphy across the vast lawn enjoying the vista from the hut.


The rugged West Coast coastline


West Coast beaches


Scotts beach just before track end

Here are some other factors that made this bike adventure a success;

  • We were blessed with warm good weather. We did have rain but the timing of it at the end of day one meant its impact was less.
  • Starting early each day meant we could enjoy the journey and not feel any need for rushing
  • We had good balanced set ups for carrying gear on our bikes. We did learn some things. Jo was carrying a pot in a dry bag on her Thule carrier and because it was a hard structure it was challenging to get enough tension on the tie down to stop it from falling off. The solution was shorter tie downs – but a few of them.
  • If you are wearing 3/4 pants then having long socks that you can pull up makes for an easy quick solution to the sand flies.
  • We were well prepared for the weather and had planned food well

It is definitely a track that we would all go back and enjoy. Now that we have ticked the box on completing the Heaphy Track we might tackle the track a little differently to minimise the logistic challenges of the start and finish point.

  • Nic is keen to find someone who needs a car relocated to Karamea end and ride it in a day.
  • Jo is keen to get a little fitter and ride through to Heaphy Hut day one and enjoy the setting of the hut before returning back to the Collingwood end the next day.
  • Annette thinks that a three day 2 night adventure would be great. Riding the complete track in both directions. Spending 2 nights at James MacKay.
    • Day 1 – Ride up to James MacKay Hut
    • Day 2 – Ride down to the West Coast and back to James MacKay (you would carry less gear as you could leave some gear at the hut)
    • Day 3 – Ride back to Collingwood end and your car
get Inspired and goRide –  The goRide team’s ‘great’ mountain biking adventure on the Heaphy Track

Thanks for reading. Used together our stories, resources & products support you to achieve and develop as a rider.

Related Resources:

Planning and Preparation to bike the Heaphy Track

Guide – How to have a great multi-day mountain biking adventure

goRide Sharing – The Heaphy Track

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