History Of The Heaphy Track

Created in 1996, Kahurangi is one of New Zealand's newest national parks. At 452,002 hectares it is also one of the largest. Translated its name has a number of meanings including ''treasured possession" or blue skies. In places it is an untracked wilderness, elsewhere a network of tracks lets you explore wild rivers, high plateau and alpine herb fields, and coastal forests.

Parts of Kahurangi were occupied by Maori from the 14th Century and the coast was much traveled by those seeking pounamu (greenstone). In 1846 Charles Heaphy, a draughtsman with the New Zealand Company, and Thomas Brunner were the first Europeans to traverse the park to the coast. Later well worn pack tracks were built by those wanting easy access to the country's first goldfields.

Kahurangi is a geologically complex area. Much of its rock is sedimentary, laid down in an ancient sea, then faulted, uplifted and scoured, in places, by glaciers. Parts of the region are limestone or marble, these areas are characterized by an abundance of caves, bluffs, natural arches, sinkholes and water-worn outcrops. New Zealand's oldest fossil (540 million years old) was found in the park.