Heaphy Track and some random beachside camping | November 2013

The Heaphy Track is a five day tramp although a few energetic types crack it out in four, in Karamea for lunchtime.

This trip isn’t like that, instead I ventured off to the beaches north of the Heaphy River for four nights, ended up spending eight nights in my tent.

In my youff I did the strenuous and trackless walk down from the Kahurangi lighthouse, unknowingly fluking the perfect tides for maximum daily progress. You just follow the coastline, rock hopping as required. This time, however, things were not quite so fortunate, the mid morning high tide thwarted much distance, the nimbleness of that youth not so evident these days.

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Day 1 | Perry Saddle campsite: just the odd bit damp

 Perry Saddle, Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

I could hear, err, voices, actually considerable mirth early on in the day, a group was behind me, having way too much fun.

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Day 2 | James McKay campsite: what's the deal, that wasn't the weather forecast

Mount Perry and Perry Saddle Hut, Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

Mount Perry was the heart starter for the day, that sidetrack starts not so far from the hut. The view was not the full 360°, maybe 240°, so the North Island was not visible, but up the Aorere Valley towards Cobb and around to the day’s future efforts.

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Day 3 | Heaphy campsite: first time around

giant rata with epiphytes near Lewis Hut, Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

Meanwhile the team I have been spending my evenings with, you jump to the next place of accommodation with the same group each day, have set up camp in this five star new Heaphy Hut and being resourceful, or at least well connected, New Zealanders treat everyone to an entree of whitebait followed by some venison steak all cooked to perfection.

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Day 4 | camping north of Porters Beach: yay!

Porters Beach, Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

The usual flyby of a pair of gannets, truly the royalty of sea birds with their golden heads, gracefully zipping inches above the almost breaking waves, the sun going down, not visible with the cloud, but it’s all looking good for tomorrow.

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Day 5 | Stream just before Wekakura Point: halfway, yeah, that’s good enough

seal on the Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

A few hundred yards back down the beach was a reasonable stream, a great campsite in the marrum grass, the vista over to an aggregation of vertically inclined rocks emerging from the sea, a couple of sufficient size for a fair amount of vegetation.

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Day 6 | Stream before Wekakura Point again

camping near Wekakura Point near Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

When you are in Paradise, and know it, why not soak it up?

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Day 7 | Back to that waterfall north of Porter's Beach

Wekakura Point near Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

Another languid start to the day, not much point hurrying when high tide is 11am, ie, low water around 5pm, just another lazy old morning aided by an intermittent drizzle, enough to keep me snug inspecting the inside of The Coffin, my tent, and astonished by the buildup of dead sandflies after two nights here, a good handful lodged in the corner, almost equally in the amount of coarse-grained sand that’s found its way indoors via my socks.

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Day 8 | Back to the Heaphy campsite

camping north of Porters Beach near Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

A few startled seals that furiously maggot their way to the safety of the water, it’s the ones basking on the other side of the rock that gets the biggest fright, certainly not me.

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Day 9 | Rongo backpackers, Karamea: that’s peace in Maori

near Kohaihai, Heaphy Track, Kahurangi National Park

Welcome back to Civilisation, it’s dog eat dog out here.