The Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand's 'Great Walks' and is a fantastic way to get 'in touch' with the 'real' New Zealand.  It is  80+ km walk (52 miles) and  is best completed  over 5 days, but you can do it is 4 - of course some super fit people do it in 3 or 2.  The track is most rewarding when done in an East to West direction, as you finish by walking towards the roaring Tasman Sea and that feels like a bonus for all your hard work. The Hepahy Track is surprisingly 'manageable' as, whilst you climb 700 metres on the first day,  the gradient is so gradual that you hardly notice it until you come to a viewpoint and go "Wow".  The track climbs through lovely Beech forests with amazing views over Golden Bay and Farewell spit and then meanders over the Gouland Downs, on the tops of the mountains.  These are beautiful tussocks of grass, that glow like barley fields in the sunlight.  Eventually you come to Mackay hut where you get a view of the Heaphy River as  it enters the Tasman Sea and this is such an inspiration to keep going and get to the Heaphy hut, which is in the most glorious setting at the confluence between the river and the sea - stunning.  The final day on the Heaphy is your big payoff.  Walking along a mainly flat track, under Nikau palm trees, with the sea crashing into the rocks on your right hand side.

You can walk to track unguided or go for a guided option.   Having a guide can add a lot of enjoyment to the track, as they will tell you things about the forest and the people, the history and the birdlife.  They will also sort out your food and this can be a huge bonus when you think you are down to your last old biscuit.

It is only by stepping off the usual Tourist route and doing a track such as the Heaphy that you get into the wilderness and meet New Zealanders on their 'home turf'.  By doing this you will come closer to understanding this fascinating country and it's delightful people.  Make time for the Heaphy Track during your NZ trip and you won't be disappointed.