NOTE: the Heaphy Track is only open to bikers from 1st May to 30th November.
This Heartland Ride follows the quiet highway north of Seddonville passing through pleasant countryside backdropped by the vast Kahurangi Ranges to the north and east, and the Tasman Sea out west.
The route is open all year, but riders will have to turn around at the Kohaihai road-end during summer as the Heaphy Track is closed to bikes from December to May. As well as providing a link between The Old Ghost Road and the Heaphy, the Heartland Ride is a great way to explore the spectacular northern end of the West Coast.
The laidback town of Karamea is a good place to stay while exploring the region’s attractions, including the must-see Oparara basin and its limestone arches (50km return trip from Karamea, including 32km of gravel).
As well as linking The Old Ghost Road with the Heaphy Track, this Heartland Ride also connects to the Old Ghost Roundabout Heartland Ride which heads south from Seddonville to Granity and back to Lyell via the Denniston Plateau, and forms one section of the epic Kahurangi 500 bikepacking route.
Starting from The Old Ghost Road northern trailhead, the route follows Mokihinui Road through the settlement of Seddonville. Take the opportunity to stop at the Rough and Tumble Lodge or Seddonville Hotel (pub) as there are few opportunities to buy food and drink on the journey ahead.
After 6km turn right onto SH67 and cross the Mokihinui River. From here this Heartland Ride follows Karamea Highway (SH67) for 67km so it’s hard to get lost! Immediately after the Mokihinui River Bridge is the turnoff for Gentle Annie Seaside Accommodation (3km down De Malmanches Road).
The only other accommodation options along the route are in Little Wanganui (40km from Seddonville) where there is a hotel with rooms, cabins and a cafe/restaurant, or Karamea (56km) where there is a wider range of accommodation including, a hotel, motels, holiday park, backpackers and campground.
Shortly after crossing the Mokihinui River, SH67 begins to climb for about 7km over the Karamea Bluff to a highpoint of around 420m. After a few more undulations the route descends to the Lake Hanlon trailhead (just over 25km from the Mokihinui River Bridge). A 1.5km walking track (30mins return) leads to a picturesque mirror lake, which is well worth the detour and a nice spot for lunch.
If you haven’t packed lunch it’s a further 9km to Little Wanganui where you can stop at the hotel for food. As with all businesses in rural settlements, check the opening hours first, or you might be going hungry for the final 16km to Karamea.
Karamea (56km from Seddonville), with its well-stocked FourSquare supermarket, is the last stop to stock up on supplies if you’re continuing to the Heaphy track.
If you’re staying in Karamea for a day or two, the limestone arches in the Oparara Basin are well worth visiting; they’re accessible on a 1-hour (2km) return walk from the car park on McCallums Mills Road. The trail head is 25km by road from Karamea (including approximately 16km of gravel).
Need to Know
This route is 90% sealed road and 10% gravel road (first 2km to Seddonville and final 5km to Kohaihai road-end). This connecting ride follows the Karamea Highway (formally SH67) for 67km which has low traffic volumes, however, riders should keep left and expect traffic at any time.
FITNESS & SKILLS
This ride is suitable for fit cyclists who are comfortable riding on the road. There is a significant climb heading north out of Seddonville, more than 7km in length to an elevation of over 400m. Thankfully, the gradient is relatively gentle and should be no trouble if you have just conquered The Old Ghost Road.
TYPE OF BIKE
This route could be ridden on a touring bike or road bike, however, if you’re tackling The Old Ghost Road or Heaphy Track, we'll assume you're already on a ship-shape mountain bike with all necessary spares and tools, and the mechanical skills to use them.
MAPS & NAVIGATION
New Zealand’s country roads are well signposted, but a map will prevent wrong turns, help you time your ride, and identify points of interest along the way.
The West Coast is (in)famous for its weather, but be assured that the rain falls mainly in big drops and mainly at night. As with any ride, check the forecast and take appropriate clothing and equipment for all possible conditions.
ACCOMMODATION, FOOD & WATER
Karamea is the main town servicing this area, and has a FourSquare supermarket, cafe/bar/restaurant and a range of accommodation options. There is also accommodation dotted along the route at Seddonville, Mokihinui, Little Wanganui and a DOC campsite at Kohaihai (Heaphy Track start/finish).
GETTING THERE & AROUND
This route provides a link between The Old Ghost Road and Heaphy Track. As a Great Ride and Great Walk respectively, both are well served by transport ranging from the national bus service to local shuttle operators based in Murchison and Westport at the southern end or Collingwood and Takaka at the northern end.
It's also possible to fly between Karamea and Takaka with Golden Bay Air (bikes included!).
There is reliable cellphone coverage in the towns and settlements along the route but it is patchy in between.
There are public toilets in Little Wanganui, Karamea, and DOC campsite at Kohaihai (start of Heaphy Track).