Adventure packed days in wild Tasman
Ready to leave the city behind and spend 5 days among dense, native bush? The Wangapeka track follows a gold mining trail across Kahurangi National Park – and it’s not without reason we call this area a tramper’s paradise.
- Traverse through hidden valleys and dense bush.
- Spot the rare whio (blue duck).
- Discover historic huts.
- Climb two saddles above 1,000m for world-class views.
With jagged peaks in the background and roaring rivers connecting the valleys along the trail, this is as wild as it gets in the Tasman region. Once used by gold hunters and sheep farmers, the track still shows remnants of the mining history in the area, next to the unique geology and an abundance of birdlife. Kiwi hikers sometimes refer to this track as the original Heaphy.
We’ll also pass one of eight significant Department of Conservation (DOC) sites run under the Whio Forever Project, aiming to provide safe waterways for the endangered whio (Blue Ducks). Starting with only 3 whio in the area, recent surveys have recorded over 60 breeding pairs. Way to go, NZ!
I have travelled and hiked around the world, but there is no place like the South Island of New Zealand. My best memories have been out in the mountains on foot, skis, or raft. I want to share New Zealand's backcountry experience and explore our unique environment with others. I love to explore places that stay off the radar, whether it's countries few have heard of, or huts that only get a couple of visits a year. Finding unforgettable views, wildlife that rarely sees humans, and bush in its wild state has made a huge impression on me. Enjoying these places while conserving them and leaving them in better condition for the future is crucial. Come with me and discover remote and pristine valleys, mountains and bush. Plus, fall in love with backcountry hut life by the fire, bathtub or natural hot pools.
- Deep knowledge of local and regional backcountry as well as the West Coast.
- Has travelled Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Armenia, for personal travel that mixed multi day trips, day hikes, camping, huts, guesthouses, all up to 4000m.
A secluded trail deep in our backcountry
Our Adventure starts from the east, a couple of hours from Nelson. We’ll use the first day to warm up with a walkover river flats and swing bridges, including some scrambling over old landslide remains. We’ll have lunch at the historic Cecil Kings Hut and continue along the old gold diggers’ track to our accommodation for the night.
The following day, we’ll tackle Wangapeka Saddle at 1,009m. The climb is gradual and we can take our time to spot the blue ducks often seen around here. Day 2 and 3 are relatively short and give us the chance to explore more of the surrounding area, including some stunning side trips.
There is so much to do in the region and nearby peaks like Mt Luna or Mt Patriarch stand inviting in the background. We’ll hike past mature beech forest, river flats (to help refill the water bottles) and cross several creeks before staying in the traditional backcountry huts along the way. It’s worth taking our time and exploring the gorges and streams – the secluded Taipo Valley is a beauty with its dense bush and birdlife chirping in the trees around us – which we’ll spend some time identifying and perhaps recording on behalf of DOC.
Day 4 is a big hike to the highest point of the route, Little Wanganui Saddle at 1,087m. The mountain vistas up here are well worth the climb and we can spend some time admiring the views before heading towards our last accommodation, Belltown Manunui Hut. From here, a descent leads past old debris of earthquakes and cyclones to the car park on the West Coast.
After 5 full-on days, we’ve deserved ourselves a proper lunch and drink at one of the local pubs before heading back to Nelson.
If you want to stay in the West Coast, Bushman Tours can help share some of our favourite accommodations at a good rate.
All tours require the proper gear to ensure you’re having the time of your life, and are well prepared if things go south. It’s the real and rugged New Zealand out there!
Cutlery, bowl & cup
Lighter / Matches
Pack Cover / Liner
Sunscreen & hat
Toiletries & Underwear
Top & Bottom Base layer
Torch & Batteries
Warm hat & gloves (March to October)
Warm hiking layer
Cooker & gas/fuel
Personal First Aid Kit
There are add-on extras for this tour. These are the little things that’ll either make your Adventure easier to organise or more rugged - your choice. You can add these during the booking process.
We can opt to camp out next to the huts if you don’t mind the cold and prefer a bit of privacy. We’ll still be able to use the hut facilities. Although it's very rare, if huts are booked up, this is a good option.Free
Optional side trips
Day 2 and 3 are relatively short and allow us to explore a bit further on various side trips. I can show you the options on the day depending on weather conditions and fitness levels. Otherwise, we'll start the day slow and get to the hut to relax, perhaps have some time to read under the swaying, native bush? No dramas!Free
Q & A
Your Bushman has added a couple of answers to questions other Visitors have asked in the past to help you with your booking plans. Once you book a tour, you'll be in direct contact with your Bushman for more support.
Can you provide meals?
Yes, if you select our meal options at check-out I’ll have them ordered for you. We get all our meals from our friends at Backcountry Cuisine; freeze-dried meals made in NZ. They come in sealable pouches and we offer multiple options including meat, vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.
Will my family enjoy this?
If your family has previous backcountry experience and is fit and healthy, they’ll have a good time! It’s a 59km hike through the sheltered forest with some gradual climbs and advanced terrain like old landslides, creek crossings and gorges younger children may need support with. If you tell me more about them, such as their age, experience and health, I can help you decide if this is right for you. Just message me via my profile.
Should I do this or the Heaphy?
The Great Walks are 'great' and all, but they're there to help support funding for bodies like DOC - which is fair enough. But the advertising and push to get people on these tracks can make them busy and expensive (the huts alone are $102+ a night). If you're looking for something traditional and probably empty with the same natural world around you, the Wangapeka is equally as good!
Here’s a few answers to the more general questions about the whole journey. You can visit our help and support area for any further information or contact us via the chat function.
What is the refund and cancellation policy?
Bushman Tours sets a standard cancellation policy that can be found via our Terms & Conditions. This is globally set at 48 hours notice. However, Bushmen may add to this depending on the requirements for the Adventure (e.g. - hiring gear and renting equipment on your behalf). The final policy will be located at the bottom of the checkout, or you can reach out to us to check.
What happens if the tour is cancelled due to weather?
In most cases, the Bushman can arrange another day to run your tour, but this also comes down to when you're available if travelling through New Zealand. We recommend ensuring you have insurance for cancellation of any tours. If the Bushman has to cancel due to a health risk, we will call you to arrange another option.
What gear do I need?
Although we have a minimum requirement of gear, you will need the right equipment and gear that is relevant to the Adventure you're booking. This is usually found at the bottom of each tour page, but for our minimum, please visit our FAQs & blog page.
Can I hire gear/equipment?
In some circumstances, your Bushman will have equipment for you to hire. This is available to browse and book through the checkout. We may also have options through our checkout. Although you may be able to borrow gear during the tour, it's important to reserve it now.
What food shall I bring?
Depending on the length, this can vary. Your Bushman will advise on the tour page what is recommended for this particular Adventure, but typically, what we offer at checkout via the add-ons section is what you'll need. Keep it lightweight and nutritious if you buy your own.
Where do I meet my Bushman?
We always try to pick the closest iSite (Visitor Centre) to your Adventure's location. Instructions on precisely where to meet are sent after the booking is made. However, you can also message your Bushman and arrange another location as long as it's close enough to the region.
How much extra is it to add family/friends onto the booking?
If you book and find that more people want to come with you, we can arrange to add them onto the booking (this is dependant on the Bushman's preference to the number of people to take out). The more that book on the original checkout option, the cheaper the fee for each individual - so spread the word before you go to book! Please note, you cannot add or bring extra people 48 hours before the tour starts.
Can I talk to my Bushman before the Adventure?
Absolutely! Once you book, you will be able to login and chat directly to your Bushman through a private, secure chat. Here you can arrange some extras you would like to do, timings for pick up and much more.
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