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Off the Beaten Track to... Kahurangi National Park

Image Soure: Tourism New Zealand. Kahurangi National Park, Nelson, New Zealand
Kahurangi National Park
Nelson, New Zealand
Photographer: Gareth Eyres
(www.exposure.co.nz)

Kahurangi National Park was created in 1996 and is one of New Zealand's newest national parks. At 452,002 hectares it is also the country's second largest. The park's name translates into a number of meanings, but probably its most apt is that of 'treasured possession' as the park offers visitors wonderfully diverse experiences of nature and recreation. It is well worth making the trip to the park to explore its untracked and tracked wilderness filled with high plateaux, alpine herb fields and coastal forests.

Kahurangi is in the northwest corner of New Zealand's South Island. Motueka, Takaka, Karamea, Tapawera and Murchison are the park's gateway towns. There are more than 570 kilometres of walking tracks in the park. The more popular longer walks include the Heaphy Track (one of New Zealand's Great Walks) and the Wangapeka Track.

The Heaphy Track

Copyright: New Zealand Tourism Guide. Heaphy Track, New Zealand

This is the longest of New Zealand's Great Walks at 78.4km and takes between 4-6 days to complete. The track crosses expansive tussock downs, lush forest and wild coastlines. The track is well formed, but suitable for fit, well-equipped hikers only. Huts and campsites are available and bookings are required.

Leslie – Karamea Track

This track is one of the region's premier semi-wilderness experiences, situated in the middle of Kahurangi National Park. It is classified as a tramping track and is marked but not benched, and quite rough in places. Many of the streams along the track are not bridged and flood-prone. Strong footwear, backcountry experience and a good level of fitness are required for any trip into this area. A true backcountry experience for trampers, hunters and fishers.

Mount Arthur Tableland Circuit

A moderately difficult hike through the limestone and marble country of the Mount Arthur Tableland in Kahurangi National Park.

Wangapeka Track

This is another popular, moderately difficult hike along the Wangapeka Track in Kahurangi National Park.

More information on all of these walks and hikes can be found on the DOC website.

Other Activities in the Kahurangi National Park Area

  • Rafting and kayaking – but most stretches of the rivers are suitable for experienced kayakers only. Commercial rafting tours are available.
  • Fishing – Trout fishing is popular and has an international reputation on the Karamea River.
  • Caving – Experienced cavers (only) can explore some of the deepest caves in the world within Kahurangi National Park.

Information for Visiting the Kahurangi National Park

  • If you use the track system in the park for overnight trips, you should fill in an intention form at the DOC visitor centre. Check also for track and hut ticketing requirements.
  • Your group should have a capable leader and everyone must carry a sleeping bag, sufficient high energy food (with some extra for emergencies), a waterproof raincoat and over trousers, gloves, a hat, and several layers of warm (wool or fleece) clothing.
  • Take sunscreen and sunglasses, (in summer or winter).
  • Your group will need a first aid kit, portable stove, fuel, cooking utensils, map and compass (along with someone who knows how to use them).
  • Boots are the recommended footwear.
  • You should always check at the visitor centre for up-to-date information on weather and track conditions.

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