Off the Beaten Track to... Karamea
Well worth a visit for outdoor adventurists and keen hikers, Karamea is a small coastal town located 100 kilometres north of Westport on the West Coast of New Zealand's South Island. The one and a half hour drive north from Westport includes stunning coastal scenery, rainforests and the Karamea Bluff, which offers spectacular views. (Tip: Close your car doors and windows when you get out to 'sight-see', as there will be plenty of sand-flies about.)
Karamea is the gateway to New Zealand's newest national park, the Kahurangi National Park – which at 452,002 hectares is also the country's second largest. Its name means 'treasured possession' and it is partly an untracked wilderness. However, there is also a network of tracks and paths, which allow visitors to explore rivers, plateaux, herb-fields and forests. The Kahurangi National Park is home to the famous Heaphy Walk (a New Zealand Great Walk), Wangapeka and Karamea-Leslie tracks, the Oparara Basin and the Fenian.
Large natural river tunnels called the Oparara Basin Arches are also located in Karamea. Within the Basin are the Honeycomb Hill Caves, a specially protected area, which was formed over the last million years. The limestone in the caves itself is approximately 35 million years old.
Activities for you to enjoy near Karamea include:
- Guide Tours (kayaking and caving) - Guided caving tours and guided kayaking tours are available in the Oparara, a unique and remote corner of the rainforest
- Rafting, kayaking, canoeing and fishing - Trout fishing and whitebaiting (in season) and kahawai
- Mountain biking and cycling - Guided tours are also available and bike hire
- Birdwatching and glowworms (glowworm caves)
- Hiking - The area boasts three main walking tracks: the Heaphy, Wangapeka and Karamea–Leslie. The Heaphy Track is one of the most famous New Zealand walks and is suitable for hikers of all ages, whilst the Wangapeka Track is more suited to the equipped back country hikers (both take about 4 days). Experience and good fitness levels are needed for the Karamea–Leslie Track. Hut passes are required on the Heaphy, Wangapeka and Karamea–Leslie tracks
- Swimming - There's no safe sea swimming here, but there is plenty of river swimming in good holes in the Wanganui, Karamea, Oparara and Kohaihai Rivers.
View more information about the Karamea and West Coast region.
West Coast Information
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