Imagine getting paid to ride one of New Zealand’s most exciting trails? Well, that’s a regular reality for John Mason: he relocates cars for riders on the Heaphy Track. Once he’s driven his client’s car from one end to the other, he rides back via the track
Snaking through the rugged Kahurangi National Park, in the north-west corner of the South Island, the 78km Heaphy Track connects Collingwood to Karamea. A route once used by Golden Bay Māori to travel to the West Coast to collect pounamu (greenstone), the current track was built in the mid-1800s by gold prospectors.
These days it’s managed by DOC and is open to mountain bikers from 1 May to 30 November each year. It’s a wild, untamed part of the country but there’s one hitch – the start and finish are separated by more than 450km of winding roads.
That’s where car relocators like John swing into action. John’s choice of transport is by bike but other relocators walk or even run the trail. Last year, 73-year-old Derry Kingston retired after 15 years of relocating cars for trampers. In that time, he walked the track over 400 times. His trail highlights? The sub-alpine section, the old Lewis Hut and the possibility of bumping into a kiwi.
Another species to watch out for on the trail is the giant land snail Powelliphanta – often seen after rain, some grow as big as a man’s fist!
The Heaphy is a tough ride (grade 4-5), suitable for those with advanced riding skills only. Most riders complete it in two days and hut accommodation is available at a number of spots along the route. Riders can travel in either direction, but most choose to start in Collingwood and finish in Karamea. Get in touch if you need bikes for the trail – we’ve got a great selection of models.
Have a good week,