Karamea is a secluded haven, situated at the end of the road, at the Northern end of New Zealand's South Island's West Coast.
It is flanked by the bush covered mountains of the Kahurangi National Park on one hand and the Tasman Sea on the other. Karamea with its mild climate and beautiful surroundings has that relaxed "off the beaten track" feeling not often found nowadays.
Fill up with petrol and visit the DOC visitor centre.
The surrounding area has a wonderful array of natural features to please everybody whether you are a tramper, caver, botanist, geologist, hunter, fisherman or just looking for a quiet spot to spend a family holiday.
The Oparara Basin
Kahurangi National Park - the ultimate destination...
Rich unspoiled rainforest stretching across a broad valley floor, three magnificent arches sculpted by the Oparara River.
Bush-fringed streams stained the colour of billy tea from the tannic acids washing down through the soil, and an underground treasure hidden away in a highly complex cave system, combine to make this area one of immense national and international significance.
The Oparara River is the habitat of the whio or blue duck, which frequents the swift-flowing waters. The Department of Conservation has some 450 stoat traps in the Oparara as part of its blue duck protection scheme.
Access: From Karamea take the main road north towards the Kohaihai. Turn right at the Oparara Arches sign at McCallums Mill Road (approx 10 kms). Access into the Basin is via a gravel road, at times narrow and winding. The journey will take about 45 minutes.
Take care. The road is not recommended for large motor homes or buses.
Walks in the Oparara Basin:
Take the left-hand track before the Oparara Bridge for 15 -20 minutes upstream. This is an easy, well formed track for most of the way, with some steps. This follows the Oparara River to the larger of the Limestone Arches. You can enter the Arch and go through to the other side which may be easier to photograph. 45 minutes return
Moria Gate /Mirror Tarn Loop Track
A new easy access 3.6km loop track linking the 2 stunning attractions listed below - Moria Gate Arch and Mirror Tarn.- beginning and ending at the car park
Allow up to 2 hours to go down under the Arch, and then cross over the top of the Arch and continue on round the terrace and down past Mirror Tarn back to the carpark. Suitable for all ages. Well signposted at the beginning of the track. Allow 1 ½ to 2 hours
Moria Gate Arch
Take the track to the right at the beginning of the large car park This track takes you through some beautiful rain forest and moss covered trees, accessing the Arch through an open-ended cave. This is a very picturesque Arch stretching over the Oparara River, and well worth the effort.Allow 45 minutes return
Driving up beyond the first Arch carpark you come to a small road to the right. This takes you to the Oparara River. You walk up past the river along an old logging track, branching slightly left to the Tarn. This is a very pretty lake, with wonderful reflections. 20 minutes return
Crazy Paving and Box Canyon Caves
Torches are necessary. Continue 2.5km on past the Arch car park to the Cave car park. A few minutes walk through the rainforest will take you to the first of the two caves, Crazy Paving Cave. It is so named due to the cave floor formation.
Look for the cave spiders Spelungula Cavernicola. and their egg sacs, also cave wetas, in this cave.(New Zealand’s largest and only native cave spider). 30 minutes return
Continue on the main track up the steps to the Box Canyon Cave. Descend down steep stairs to the cave floor.
This cave is a large open cave, with several limestone passages off to the sides that you can explore. Look for fossils on the ceiling.
Please respect the delicate nature of these caves.
Start of the Heaphy Track
The Heaphy Track, located in Kahurangi National Park at the north-west corner of the South Island, is the longest of the DOC Great Walks. For 82 kilometres the track crosses the Park’s range of landscapes and finishes at Collingwood.
Kohaihai marks the end of the road. Here starts the Heaphy Track at the mouth of the Kohaihai River. It is a camping site, has good parking and public toilets. A great place for a picnic too. Start the track next to the shelter. Well before the swing bridge is a small sign on the right pointing to the zig zag track. It leads to a vantage point overlooking the Kohaihai River mouth, sea and forested hills. Originally part of an access route into the river flats to the East. Allow 1 hour return.
Start the track next to the shelter and cross the swing bridge. The Nikau walk is clearly sign posted.
A wonderful short walk through an almost pure stand of Nikau palms, amongst them some majestic ratas and few other native species.
At a fork with no signs choose left for the short version or right for the longer one. For the longer walk allow 45 minutes return.
This is the first beach from the start of the Heaphy Track. To reach it you have to climb over a small saddle just past Nikau walk. Allow 1.5 hours return.