New Zealand

Kahurangi National Park

Where is it?

Kahurangi is situated in the northwest corner of the South Island. Nearby towns include Motueka, Takaka, Karamea, Tapawera and Murchison. From each town there is road access to the park and its tracks.

There is a bus services from Motueka to Takaka and in summer to the Heaphy Track. The bus service to Christchurch will drop trampers off at various access points into the park. There are many on-demand shuttle services in most of the towns that will provide transport for trampers. These services enable trampers to complete the one-way routes within the park such as the Heaphy track.

Facts about the Kahurangi National Park

From as early as the 14th Century, Maori occupied Kahurangi and many travelled along its coastline in search of pounamu (greenstone). Charles Heaphy and Thomas Brunner were the first Europeans to traverse across the park to the coast and later other tracks were made by people wanting easy access to the goldfields on the West Coast.

Kahurangi is geologically complex, most of it is sedimentary rock, laid down on an ancient sea-bed, then faulted, uplifted and scoured by glaciers. Because of limestone in the park, there are a lot of caves, bluffs and sinkholes. The oldest fossil in New Zealand was found in Kahurangi, it was 540 million years old.

Due to the large variation in climate in the park - wet, warm conditions on the coast contrasting with the alpine conditions further inland - the vegetation types in the park vary too. The coastline has a tropical feel with its nikau palms, whilst inland from the coast you pass through lush podocarp forest with ferns and vines to reach beech forests on the eastern side.

The park is home to many species including the endangered rock wren and the great spotted Kiwi. There are 20 different species of carnivorous land snail (Powelliphanta) in the park, which feed on native worms that can grow up to a metre long!

To do

Tramping is the main activity in the park. The two most popular tracks are the Heaphy Track (a Great Walk) and the Wangapeka, see below for further details. There are many other tracks and routes in the park, including the Tasman Wilderness Area which due to its remote nature is suitable only for experienced trampers.

The Karamea river is known around the world for its excellent trout fishing.

There are rafting and kayaking opportunities within Kahurangi, however most are only suitable for experienced kayakers.

Where to stay?

Many of the towns near the park have a wide variety of accommodation. Motueka is a pleasant place to stay and Takaka has a very laid back and alternative feel.

Tramps in the Kahurangi NP

Heaphy Track

The Heaphy Track crosses Kahurangi park and access is via Collingwood in the north-east and Karamea at the south-western end. At 82 kilometres in length, the Heaphy takes four to six days to complete and is the longest of the Great Walks in New Zealand. It is a designated walking track and is suitable for fit and well-equipped trampers. Huts are conveniently placed along the track and camping is also available along the track.

Unfortunately the ends of the track are 463 kilometres apart. However there are many commercial operators who will provide transport at both ends of the track to enable trampers to return to their vehicles. End track end has a telephone to allow track users to make free calls for local transport.

Wangapeka Track

The less well-known Wangapeka track is 52 kilometres in length and is a three to five day tramp. It is situated in the south of the park and passes through steep mountainous terrain crossing two saddles over 1000m above sea level. It is rated as a tramping track and is only suitable for trampers with at least some experience - clothing for all conditions is required as snow has fallen on the higher levels of the track even in the summer.

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