While mining the most rugged terrain imagineable, Coasters developed an engineering project on the Denniston Incline that was dubbed the "8th Wonder of the World" for its sheer inventiveness. We think it led to the invention of the roller coaster. The region is well known for its rich coal mining history in addition to its abundant unique natural attractions and its warm, mild weather. Nowadays you can see if you have what it took to be a miner at the underground Denniston Mining Experience. Or take advantage of the weather while visiting the Oparara limestone arches in Karamea and Kahurangi National Park or experiencing the noisy bluster of the seal colony at Cape Foulwind near Westport.
The Northern West Coast includes Karamea, Little Wanganui, Seddonville, Mokihinui, Hector, Ngakawau, Granity, Waimangaroa, the Denniston Plateau and Westport with Cape Foulwind, Tauranga Bay and The Buller Gorge.
Buller - The Top of The West Coast!
Karameaaccommodation in Karamea. The Karamea Information and Resource Centre can provide you with information on activities in Karamea.
The first true settlement of the area took place in 1874 when the (then) fine harbour and sea provided the only means of contact with the outside world. Farming, timber, flax and gold provided a means of living but in 1929 the Murchison earthquake caused the silting up of the harbour and cut the community’s road link for about two years. The Karamea Centennial Museum holds an excellent archival and photographic record of Karamea's early history. The Fenian Track to Adams Flat is an interesting historic track in Karamea.
Karamea ActivitiesKahurangi National Park and is a natural wonderland with caving, birdwatching, mountain biking, fishing and hunting, kayaking and rafting opportunities. There are many short walks near Karamea including the Nikau Walk and Scotts Beach Walk which highlight the natural bush and coastal features of Karamea.
The Heaphy Track is the perfect pick for families or those new to tramping. It starts or finishes at Kohaihai, 16km north of Karamea. From May to September the Heaphy is also open to mountain biking. Other trails including the Wangapeka and Karamea-Leslie Tracks are popular too.
There are guided walks and kayaking into the Oparara Arch and Cave and the Honeycomb Hill Caves from Karamea. You feel like you have entered another world when you visit – it is beauty born of a million years of isolation.
Between Karamea and Westport
Call in at the local pub for a bit of authentic West Coast hospitality at Little Wanganui or drive down to the beach.
Seddonville is just inland from the coast. It marks one end of the Old Ghost Road mountain biking track. The 80km multi-day walk or ride follows a long forgotten gold miners road and traverses native forest, alpine tops and seven ghost towns to historic Lyell in the Buller Gorge. Approx 25km of track from either end is open but the track is not yet completed. Check at the Westport iSite for current conditions.
There are some nice walkways along this stretch of road. At Seddonville you can access one end of the Charming Creek Walkway which takes you through a gorge and many historic features and is also open to mountain biking. The other end is at Ngakawau and Granity where you can do short walks to the coal bins, Watson and Mumms Mill. If you want to do the full walkway, locals would recommend you start at Seddonville and head downhill.
At Hector, look out for the Hector Pottery studio, gallery and Country Music Museum. The museum is bursting with owner Barry's collection of country music LPs, CDs, tapes, sheet music, song-books and autographed photographs.
Denniston PlateauDenniston Plateau where an engineering project on the Denniston Incline was dubbed the "8th Wonder of the World". It's a lonely landscape, you can almost hear the clang of the old coal bins. Read the interpretation panels or for a real taste of coalmining try The Denniston Mine Experience. This interactive experience really does simulate the harsh life of a Denniston miner. There are numerous historic places of interest in Denniston like the Denniston Museum and the Brakehead at the top of the incline. Outdoor activities in Denniston include over 50km of mountain biking tracks and several interesting walks including the Denniston Town Walk.
Westport is a coastal township located near the mouth of the Buller River. While keeping its small town feel, there is a large town centre with restaurants and cafes, services and accommodation in Westport that you would expect to find in a much larger town. There is also an airport in Westport with direct flights to and from Wellington. The Westport iSite is housed in the new Coaltown Museum.
As the Coast's oldest town Westport has a fair few stories to tell. Westport is a town built on coal extraction from wild and remote places. There are many historical places of interest in Westport including historic buildings, railway and quarry sites and a lighthouse at Tauranga Bay.
Check out the Coaltown Museum where you can learn about its mining history and the pioneers who battled the rugged environment.
For a great family swimming spot, head to Carters Beach where there is a park, playground, nearby golf course and shops. Another family activity is a visit to the aquatic and sports facility which features pools and a gym - among other things. For experienced surfers, check out Tauranga Bay and Nine Mile Beach. Lessons are available for beginners at Tauranga Bay in summer.
Our favourite natural wonder in Westport is the Cape Foulwind Walk (16km southwest of Westport) at Tauranga Bay. One of many walks near Westport, it takes you over a prominent headland overlooking the Tasman Sea and at the southern end is one of New Zealand’s most accessible NZ fur seal colonies. You can watch the seals swimming and dozing year round but the best viewing is between October and March when the big bull seals return to mate and the pups are at their most playful.
There are some great events in Westport. The Buller Gorge Marathon and half marathon in February is one of the most scenic marathons in New Zealand while the Buller Gorge Tube Race is fun for everyone.
The road between Westport and Reefton takes just an hour and is a truly scenic drive. It traverses part of the Buller Gorge Scenic Drive which is rated as one of the “101 must do things” by the New Zealand Automobile Association and with good reason. Even on a misty rainy day the scenery is dramatic. Plus there are exciting options available to raft the wild rapids of the Buller River. The small town of Inangahua along the way was nearly wiped out by earthquakes in 1928 and 1967. Check out the video and historic display at the local hall to get an idea of the amazing power of nature.
Travel Times & Distances
For place names, hover over the yellow dots. Click on any yellow dot to check the travel distance/time from Westport (in red);
More Information on Westport Karamea region
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