Heaphy Track huts and campsites
The Heaphy Track accommodation has been undergoing a transformation in recent times, the Perry Saddle, James McKay, and Heaphy Huts have been replaced, now it’s as five star as you are likely to get when roughing it: heavy insulation; big double glazed windows; separate bedrooms, ie, four; a slew of gas rings for cooking up dinner; flyscreens, that’s actually sandfly screens; big airlocks; huge timber decks; and, at least at Heaphy Hut, two flushing toilets that are undercover, ie, no big walk at night, although you do have to go outside.
The other two huts, Gouland Downs and Lewis are more like it used to be, ie, less comfort, more character.
Lewis Hut will be demolished and not replaced at some stage as it is in a flood zone.
Camping is not quite straight forward: Perry Saddle campsite is the best, as fully specified as you could wish, there’s a kitchen shelter with benches, sinks, water, and a picnic table; the others, Gouland Downs, James McKay and Saxon have strange timber platform constructions where you are supposed to pitch your tent, there’s a bunch of ropes to attach your tent rather than the ability to bung in pegs, not so good if you don’t have a self supporting tent; the Heaphy campsite is on a considerable slope, DOC management should be made to camp there, although there is a shelter and picnic tables.
There are resident hut wardens at Perry Saddle, Saxon, James McKay and Heaphy Huts for the summer months, November to April and occasionally in winter so be warned, they will ask to see printed out proof you have paid your hut fees, ie, it’s worth booking and carrying evidence.
Aorere Shelter campsite is one of those common DOC Heaphy Track campsites that just isn’t quite horizontal as usually defined, still, you can’t have everything. At least there’s a picnic table and a shelter here, ie, a structure with a roof and no door.
Brown campsite is just some random mown area on the lawn outside the hut, ie, not really specifically a camping area with its own facilities.
Brown Hut is not used so much these days now that transportation to the end of the track has been better worked out but it’s a comfortable enough place to stay.
The Gouland Downs campsite is large bare timber platform not far from the hut with tie down ropes to secure the tent instead of pegs in the ground. Guess the vegetation here is quite fragile.
The historic Gouland Downs Hut has plenty of character, ie, a low flying ceiling, and a fireplace where you can watch the flames at night but otherwise not quite so well appointed as the other huts on the track.
The Heaphy campsite is not exactly level campsite in an area known for its friendly sandflies, which will greet you in a cloud.
Heaphy Hut is brand new, of the mega flash, five star Great Walk variety, ie, big picture windows, four separate bedrooms, double glazing, mega insulated, countless gas rings, and best of all, sufficient long communal tables to enforce evening socialisation. It’s all mega. Hey, that kinda sounds like the new Perry Saddle Hut.
James MacKay campsite is a fairly exposed campsite with a choice of two bare timber platforms with numerous tie down ropes to secure the tent instead of pegs in the ground.
James MacKay Hut is the typical you beaut 5 star luxury accommodation that DOC is insisting on building for the Great Walks these days.
Katipo Creek Shelter campsite is one of a few campsites on the Heaphy Track with this 1970s style of shelter with a water tank and sink bench out the back. Not quite on the beach but it isn’t far away.
Kohaihai Shelter campsite at the Karamea road end is not actually classified as a Great Walks campsite and is therefore has a different pricing structure.
Lewis Hut is perched above the river this older hut isn’t highly used currently, often just by people as a lunch stop. That may well change with the imminent closure of James McKay Hut. Comfortable enough.
Perry Saddle campsite is the most fully serviced of the Heaphy Track campsites: there’s a flattish grassed area to whack up the tent; a kitchen structure with two benches; a sink and tap; and a picnic table, all under a roof.
Perry Saddle Hut is a brand new, of the mega flash, five star Great Walk variety, ie, big picture windows, four separate bedrooms, double glazing, mega insulated, countless gas rings, and best of all, a couple of long communal tables that enforces evening socialisation.
Saxon campsite hasa choice of three bare timber platforms with tie down ropes to secure the tent instead of pegs in the ground. Guess the vegetation here is quite fragile. Otherwise it’s all tussock.
Saxon Hut is an older, 1982 hut, in the style that used to populate the Heaphy, one big room, and, if stacked to full capacity, would prove to be slightly inadequate in terms of benches and seating for the inhabitants.
A sheltered Scotts Beach campsite is not so far from the road end in amongst the shrubbery and not too far away from the beach. Somewhere there must be a flattish area.