Israeli Traveller Conquers Heaphy Track in Wheelchair

By Paul Murray

Possibly the first person in a wheelchair ever to see the Heaphy River, Arnon enjoys the view at the end of a day on the track. (Photo by Nadav Amit)

Possibly the first person in a wheelchair ever to see the Heaphy River, Arnon enjoys the view at the end of a day on the track. (Photo by Nadav Amit)

Arnon Amit from Israel arrived in Karamea at the top of the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand on January 2, 2015, after successfully negotiating the Heaphy Track in a wheelchair.

The Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand's nine "Great Walks" and the only one on which mountain biking is permitted (from May 1 to September 30). The track is approximately 80 kilometers long and traverses the Kahurangi National Park at the top of the South Island. Most people walk, ride or now roll, the Heaphy Track from Collingwood in Golden Bay through to Karamea on the West Coast.

With a lot of determination and effort and the help of his brother Nadav and friends Maayan Kalo and Gul Janvosky, Arnon bounced over some rough terrain, through a flood and tacked swarms of sandflies to complete the track in five days to become what is thought to be the first person to complete the track in a chair.

Arnon was injured in a car accident while doing his national service in the Israeli Army in 2008 and lost the use of his legs. He was an enthusiastic outdoors person before the accident and has managed to overcome his physical challenges and maintain his love of tramping and nature with a little help from his friends.

For the complete story with pictures and an interview with Arnon on Karamea Radio please follow this link.