With its mild climate and beautiful surroundings, Karamea has a relaxed “off the beaten track” feel. The area is a natural wonderland, and is the beginning (or end) of the famous Heaphy and Wangapeka tracks, and the Oparara Basin in the Kahurangi National Park.
The pleasant 1½ hour drive north from Westport is one of the finest drives in the South Island.
Karamea has a supermarket, a general store, a service station for motoring needs, dining and cafés and a range of transport and accommodation to suit all tastes and budgets.
Whether you enjoy caving, fishing, walking, botany, geology, hunting, or just a quiet spot to relax, enjoy time out and meet a few locals, Karamea has it all.
Some must do's for Karamea:
Honey Comb Hill Cave and Kayak Tour with the Oparara Trust guide.
Explore the Oparara Valley limestone arches and Mirror Tarn.
Walk to Scott’s Beach along the start of the Heaphy Track.
Walk the Fenian Track to see the gold diggings and limestone caves.
Visit the Colonial Museum then wander the Karamea Estuary Walk.
Go heli-rafting on the Karamea River
Follow the signs from the Market Cross and visit the Land of Promise and the Karamea Gorge
Book a trip with a local fly fishing guide
Eat wild food at the Village Hotel
Mountain bike the K Road tracks
The name Karamea is used for both the township and the whole area. It is a contraction of Kakara-taramea, meaning sweet-scented gum, which was made locally from the leaves of speargrass.
The urban area consists of two distinct settlements along the main road: Market Cross and Karamea itself.
Walk along a river bank in the Kahurangi National Park, or take a guided eco-tour, to the amazing limestone arches of Oparara; a combination of unique landforms, diverse ecosystems and magnificent caves and arches deep in the rainforest of the West Coast.
Isolated for millions of years, these spectacular creations have formed undisturbed and are treasured and protected now. Public access to the 'Honeycomb Hill Specially Protected Area' is restricted to DOC (Department of Conservation) approved guided tours only, due to the delicate ecological nature of the area.
The Oparara caves are also renowned for the discovery of the largest collection of subfossil bird bones found in New Zealand. Over 50 species, many now extinct, have been discovered including moa, giant New Zealand eagle, giant flightless goose and rare native birds such as takahe and kakapo.
Some of the fossils date back to 20,000 years ago and the limestone which has preserved them perfectly, dates back some 25 million years. The granite bed of the Oparara basin itself is thought to be approximately 400 million years old.
The New Zealand Department of Conservation’s longest ‘great walk’, the Heaphy Track is a multi-day 82 kilometre hike through the stunning Kahurangi National Park (one of New Zealand’s newest national parks, created in 1996).
The Heaphy Track will open on the 1st May 2011 to Mountain biking as well as trampers. The track will be open to Mountain bikers for 5 months over winter for 2011, 2012 and 2013, this is a great opportunity to ride oneof the premier bike tracks in the country! Mountain Bike the Heaphy click here for further information
The Wangapeka Track
The Wangapeka Track traverses the magnificent Kahurangi National Park from east to west, and is a 3 – 5 day tramp covering 52 km. Entry to the start of the track is from either the Little Wanganui settlement (12 km) or Tapawera (30 km). Walk the Wangapeka click here for further information