Heaphy Track Re opening

Posted on 24 October 2023

Heaphy Track Re opening

Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō whānau and kaimahi came from across Te Tauihu to join the community in Karamea, for the reopening of the Heaphy Track on Thursday 19th of October 2023.


The iconic 82-kilometre track has been closed since February 2022 when Cyclone Dovi caused severe damage to one of the swing bridges on the track. The Heaphy track is a place of profound cultural significance for our iwi. Not only have we had settlements in the region but our tupuna have a long history across the West Coast.

The day started with a blessing at the newly constructed swing bridge by Ngāti Waewae. Helicopters flew up to the site of the new bridge to begin the proceedings.  A cutting of the ribbon ceremony was held at the track’s entrance at Kohaihai later in the morning. Students from the local kura planted native trees to commemorate the occasion. The Department of Conservation then held an information session where they went into detail about the construction of the new bridge.



Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Trusts Chair Person, Hinemoa Conner attended the re-opening and spoke about why this kaupapa was so significant to Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō. 

“This area holds a great deal of significance to Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō.  Our tupuna Kehu, famously guided Charles Heaphy and Thomas Brunner on their surveying expedition of Te Tauihu.  Kehu was accredited with showing both men what would invetabilty become the Heaphy Track”.

Originally known as Kehu’s Track, it formed an extremely important and well-used highway that connected Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō settlements in Te Tai Aorere (Tasman), Mohua (Golden Bay), Te Taitapu and Kawatiri (Buller). Our tupuna also used the track to gain access to limestone caves used as urupā, which remain tapu today.



 Hinemoa also added how significant this track is to the local community in Karamea and beyond.

“The Heaphy track is one of the biggest drivers of the West Coast’s economy.  It draws in a significant amount of tourists year-round. Its closure has had a massive impact on this community.  It’s fantastic to see it up and running again.”

Darren Ngaru King, General Manager for Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō Trusts acknowledged all of the hard work that went on behind the scenes to reopen the Track. He also acknowledged the whānau who attended the reopening.

“The attendance of Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō whānau and Trustees at the reopening ceremony affirms not only our shared interests in the area but also the significance of the reopening of the track for communities along the coast”.

Ngā mihi   


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