Karamea, West Coast, New Zealand www.karameaholidayhomes.co.nz

Oparara River Bridge, at Kohaihai point (start or end of the Heaphy track)

Reflections and Morning mist at Lake Hanlon, lovely easy bush walk and beautiful scenery

The Moria Gate, to view the wonderful external stalactites

Bird Breeding sanctury

At the Kohaihai River, great for exploring, don't forget to do the small Nikau Palm walk

Old Shed near the Kohaihai Picnic Area


Short walks

In Karamea there is a huge variety of short walks, that suit both young and old.   

LARGE MATAI TREE, KARAMEA BLUFF: (On the road into Karamea)

10 minutes return walk
To a beautiful large Matai tree,  which stands just a few minutes from the main highway. It is signposted and is on the left going up towards Karamea.

40 minutes return.
There is a sign on the left going towards Karamea (or travel 25 kms south of Karamea, on highway 67).  The short walk takes you to a beautiful little lake and viewing platform, ideal for a picnic spot.

One hour
Travel towards the aerodrome and take the left turn towards the beach.  Park the car and walk around the sand spit, to view the Tasman Sea and the river mouth.  This is the Flagstaff. Before 1929 and the Murchison Earthquake, Karamea had a very busy harbour, but after the earthquake the harbour silted, up which closed the port.

The  Estuary Walk is  a new walk above the tide line, and can be accessed from Ray Street.

You can fish here (when in season) for white-bait etc.

30 minutes
This walk starts at a style at the rear of the Domain (you can also access it from the end of Wharf Road).   You can follow the river down along to its mouth.  Do be careful as the tide rises very quickly! During your  walk, you can see many of  the local birds, and either return the way you came or  go via  the estuary, which will bring you back to Ray Street. You can then, if you choose, call into the “Local” for refreshments or a bite to eat.

45 minutes return
This track it begins about 7 km up the Umere Road. Take the right hand turn from the Tourist Information Office and drive up this road. The walk takes you through Karamea’s beautiful native bush to a huge Rimu tree. There are now not many of these large trees left due to excessive logging, which was stopped a few years ago. 
KOHAIHAI Picnic Area
(The start of the HEAPHY TRACK: takes four days one way, huts are located along the track)
Take the road (well sign posted) past the beach towards the Kohaihai River. This is where you will find the start of the Heaphy Track. You can have a lovely picnic and see the ocean and the river at the same time. BBQ facilities are also provided as well as toilets and a waterproof shelter. A lovely camping spot. You can go for a dip in the river; it’s a bit cold but very refreshing (make sure you have your insect repellent handy as there are sand flies around here).

Short Walks around Karamea

NIKAU WALK  near Kohaihai Picnic Area20 or 40 minutes return, suitable for the elderly and very young children.
The upper West Coast is renowned for its Nikau Palms and on this walk you will see Karamea’s  best examples. Walk over the swing bridge -  which is a great photo shot - at the start of the Heaphy  track.

There is a sign post to the right. The track is easily accessible and provides a  lush bush environment with beautiful Nikau palms. You can turn back to the bridge or continue on the main track and walk to the lookout point – this may take 1.5 hours return, but is definitely worth the effort!  A seat is located at the lookout point for a well earned rest.

Scott’s Beach: 
Two hours return from Kohaihai (take sand pit toys for the children, and a picnic)
Walk from the car park at the mouth of Kohaihai River. Travel along to the swing bridge and go past the Nikau Walk, up and over the hill. Here you will have great views. The beach is sandy and sheltered and has many large rocks to explore. With children this is a great day out, but take insect repellant.

One hour return
You will be able to see this walk from the Kohaihai car park area. Take a right turn on to the steps and start to climb the zigzag walk way, all the way to the top of the hill.  After your efforts you will be rewarded with breath taking views of the Kohaihai River mouth and the Tasman Sea. This is a great  place to take a bottle of wine, some nibbles and watch the sun set.

One hour return
This was previously used by the early settlers, and commences about 2.5km up the Arapito side of the Karamea River. You walk up onto the South Terrace, which provides two great lookouts over Karamea and the surroundings.

Continue on from the zigzag walk, and you come to the old cemetery. This was used by the first European settlers on the South Terrace. Here you can get  a glimpse of the life that people lead over one hundred years ago and their poor life expectancy. 

One Day Walks around Karamea

Katipo Shelter 
6 hrs return an easy walk for adults, but allow longer for younger children.
This walk takes you along the wonderful rugged coast beyond Scott’s Beach, which is the first part of the Heaphy Track. Fantastic coastal views can be seen as well wonderful Karamea vegetation.
Mount Stormy Track 
6-8 hrs return: a challenging climb requiring a reasonable level of fitness.

You may need to check first at the Karamea Information Centre to obtain permission to pass through private property.

To access this track, you need to get on to the Arapito Road, 6 kms up the valley. The walk is a steep winding track, reaching a height of 1084m, with breathtaking views of Karamea. Make sure you choose a sunny day to make the most of the stunning scenery. Dress appropriately with good footwear as weather can change quickly.
A high level of fitness is required for this walk (6 hours one way, with the option of staying in the hut overnight).

This walk is suitable for the keen trout fisherman and the more adventurous walker/explorer. You will need to travel 10km up the Umere Road, and find Virgin Creek. The walk way follows the river from Virgin Creek to Greys Hut.

This is an excellent area for trout fishing. A good sand fly repellent is recommended.
Land marks to be found along the way: 

Old Man Rock - one hour
Waterfall - one and half hours
Mohawk Bluff - four and half hours
Greys Hut - six hours

FENIAN TRACK:  an area with a fascinating gold mining history dating back to the 1860s.

Three hours return
Take the road from Market Cross to the Oparara loop road, and turn right at the Lime works.  Drive about 2 kms to the car park.

There  is  a  sign which  directs  you to the Fenian Track and Cavern Creek Bridge, this is  a one  hour  walk.  The Cavern creek bridge loops back to the main track after about 60 minutes. Crossing broken limestone country, the track includes a visit to two caves and an 80m scramble through a third, Tunnel Cave. Sensible shoes, a good torch, and warm clothing are essential. (Never venture into caves too far unless by marked path and you have a good torch).

ADAMS FLATThree to five hours return
You can continue on towards the Fenian Creek to Adams Flat.  This walk will take you through mixed forest and bush.  Here is a where a replica of a gold miners hut has been create d by the DOC.   This is where settler and gold miner John Adams lived, worked and died in the late 1880s. You can see many traces of the tail races and gold workings around this area. 


How to get there 

From Karamea take the main road north towards the Kohaihai. Turn right at the Oparara Arches sign at McCallums Mill Road; this is about 10 km’s.   The gravel road is not recommended for motor homes and large vehicles, very narrow and winding in places. Leave enough time, from the turn off, it will take about 45 minutes, TAKE CARE. 

Deep in the rich unspoiled rainforest stretching across a broad valley floor, three magnificent arches have been sculpted by the Oparara River.  There are beautiful bush-fringed streams stained the colour of tea.  This is as a result of the humic acids washing down through the soil.  The Oparara River nurtures the existence of the whio or blue duck. 

There is a fantastic underground cave system, which makes Karamea so special and attractive for all kinds of reasons.  You can visit the Box Canyon and Crazy Paving caves free of charge. The other caves in the area can be visited by Guided Tour run by the Oparara Valley Trust and must be booked through the Information Centre. Remember to take the torch.

OPARARA ARCH45 minutes return

Take the left-hand turning before the Oparara Bridge for 15 -20 minutes upstream. This is an easy, well formed walk way, though does have some steps. The walk way follows the Oparara River to the larger one of the Limestone Arches.   It is pretty spectacular.

allow 1 1/2 to 2 hours

The start and end of the walk is located at the at the first car park.   Allow up to two hours to go down under the Arch, you can also go over the top of the Arch, and then continue on to the Mirror Tarn, a beautiful little lake,  is so still it  is  like a  mirror.  

This is a new and easy loop walk, about 3.6 km long.   It links the two amazing natural attractions, these being, Moria Gate Arch and Mirror Tarn. Moria Gate Arch: (45 minutes return)

Mirror Tarn 
20 minutes return

If you drive up beyond the first Arch car park you come to a small road to the right. This will take you to the Oparara River. I f you walk up past the river along an old logging track, you can branch out to the left to Mirror Tarn. This is a very pretty lake, with wonderful reflections.

half an hour return

Torches are necessary. Continue 2.5km on past the Arch car park to the second and Cave car park. On the left there is a small track, which takes you for approximately three minutes through the rainforest.   You come to the first of the two caves, Crazy Paving Cave.

This is named due to the cave floor formation. Look for the cave spiders Spelungula Cavernicola, New Zealand's largest and only native cave spider, as well as their egg sacs, they hang like large balls of cobwebs from the cave ceiling.  There are also cave wetas, in this cave. Keep an eye out for Glow Worms.

Keep going, on the main walk and go 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.


10 km's into the Oparara Basin, there are 5 km's of old logging roads, which have been opened up for mountain biking and tramping. This is a very interesting area of cut-over bush, exotics and regeneration.  This is suitable for both adults and children.
Wangapeka Trackthree to five days 52 km’s 

The Wangapeka Track explores the magnificent Kahurangi National Park from east to west.
The start of the track is from either the Little Wanganui settlement 12 km or Tapawera 30 km. The walk goes through steep mountainous country, 1701 metres above sea level, and crosses two saddles of over 1000m.  The walk covers through the beautiful beech-forested valleys of the Wangapeka, Karamea, Taipo and Little Wanganui Rivers.

The Wangapeka Track is classified as a tramping track. It is suitable to those with some experience and trampers are required to carry clothing for all conditions. Snow has been known to be on the passes even in the summer months.

Little Wanganui Access
You can leave your vehicles at the car park and follow the DOC markers to the beginning of the track.

Most of the rivers are bridged apart from lower reaches of the Little Wanganui River. Extreme care must be taken on the creek crossings when in the rivers are in flood. Creeks and rivers can rise and fall very quickly. It is advisable to carry some extra clothing and waterproof gear. You will need to complete the hut books, and ensure someone knows where you are going and when you are planning to return.

Cooking facilities are provided in most huts, but visitors should carry their own cookers, food, and water and carry out all their rubbish.

At all times you can only hut fireplaces or those provided at camp-sites. Ensure that only dead or fallen trees are used as fire wood, and try to aim to leave supply of firewood, for the next person.

Always take your rubbish out with you, thank you.

Mountain BikingMountain biking is not permitted in the Kahurangi National Park.

No dogs are allowed in the Kahurangi National Park

Hut Fees (check as prices may change)
Adult $10.00 per night
Youth $5.00 per night
Under 11 free
Annual Passes can be used

Exceptions: Rolling Junction Hut $5.00. Cecil King Hut Free, Stag Flat Shelter Free. Hut Tickets can be purchased from the Karamea Information & Resource Centre. Ideally display passes at all times.
PLEASE CHECK TRACK CONDITIONS BEFORE DEPARTING WITH THE local DOC office or the Tourist Information Centre in Market Cross, Karamea.

Summer and Winter timetables apply. (Labour Weekend to Easter inclusive equals summer). Please check phone box at end of track.

Little Wanganui end of track.
Karamea Motors/Express Ltd.
(03) 7826 757 or (03) 7826 718
Shuttle service on demand, departs Karamea for Westport 7.40 am 6pm

Cunninghams Bus to Westport 
(03) 782 6652 or (03) 789 7177P

Mon - Friday Departs Karamea at 5.45 pm

Nelson Lakes Shuttles
03 521 1900 or 021490095
On demand service.
"Run by trampers for trampers"

Tapawera End:
Telephone 1 km from end of track.
Wadsworth Motors
(03) 522 4248
On demand Connects with bus to Nelson
Trek Express
0800 12 8735
On demand for 4WD Tramper bus
Nelson Lakes Shuttles
03 521 1900 or 021490095
On demand service
 "Run by trampers for trampers"

The Leslie-Karamea Track
Six to nine days

The Leslie-Karamea Track is a wonderful semi-wilderness experience, situated in the middle of the Kahurangi National Park.

This walk is a branch off the main Wangapeka Track, at Helicopter Flat Hut or can be accessed at Flora Car Park or the Cobb. The track takes 6-9 days and is classified as a tramping track. Many of the streams and creeks along the track are not bridged, and are liable to flood. Appropriate clothing and equipment must be carried for all conditions. Back country experience is required plus a good level of fitness.  It is advisable to carry your own cooker.

HUT PASSESAll Huts are category 3 requiring one ticket per night, except Salisbury Lodge, and Wangapeka Track huts (category two 2 tickets); these can be purchased from the Karamea Information & Resource Centre. Annual Passes can also be used on this walk.

Huts are frequent, with an average of 3-4 hours between huts. As for the Wangapeka respect all bush rules, e.g. use only dead wood and replace supplies etc. As there are no rubbish facilities in the park, please carry your own rubbish out.

This walk provides great trout fishing and hunting. A permit is required by DOC for hunting.
Saxon Falls is a definite must to see, from Helicopter Flat go up the Lost Valley or from Trevor Carter Hut go up the true right side to see these magnificent falls.

There are several entry/exit points on this track. Cobb Valley, Flora Car park, Wangapeka Track Karamea end, and Wangapeka Track Tapawera end.

The options are similar to the Wangapeka Track as above. There are regular bus services running between Takaka and Nelson, and taxi services that will service the Cobb Valley and the Flora Car park, as well as the Baton road end.

An information sheet on the Leslie-Karamea Track is available from Department of Conservation offices and Information Centres.

All intentions must be put in hut books.


The Heaphy Track : 4  days  one  way
The Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand Great Walks. The track is 82 kilometres long.  The walk crosses a range of breathtaking landscapes, in the Kahurangi National Park, including tussock covered downs, river flats and lush forest.

The Nikau groves that tower the last part of the Heaphy Track to Karamea make it especially beautiful. The track is not difficult, and suitable for families and those with little experience. It is recommended that you carry clothing and equipment for all conditions as weather conditions can be changeable at all times of the year.

The Heaphy Track can be walked either way, but often the preferable route is to walk from the Collingwood end to Karamea. This is mainly due to the fact that you climb onto the table-lands and then drop down to the West Coast.

The distances between the huts vary from 8 km to 16 km. Most huts accommodate 20-26 trampers, with full gas cooking facilities. It is advisable to carry your own cooking utensils, as well as cutlery. Trampers should be aware of the need to respect others, and share space and facilities.

Carry a good insect repellent and be aware that mosquitoes may be a problem.

Mountain BikesThese are not permitted in the National Park.

To protect ground dwelling birds, no dogs or other domestic animals are allowed in the Park.

You will need to take rubbish back out with you.

Giardia has not been found in waters along the Heaphy track walk, but its presence cannot be dismissed. As a precaution, boil all drinking and cooking water, or chemically treated or filter.

Fires can only be used in the places provided at camp sites. Burn only dead wood and always make sure fire is fully extinguished before you leave.

No hunting is allowed on the Gouland Downs. Permits must be sought from DOC where hunting permitted.

Time Frame/Hut fees
The Heaphy Track walk, takes an average of 4 days and 3 nights for the average tramper. A family group may prefer to take 5 days and 4 nights.

A booking system is now in place, and all huts and campsites must be booked prior to walking the track, due to its popularity.  Online bookings can be made from home or at a DOC office or Information Centre.  

Great Walk Fees (please check, as fees may change)
Summer (1 October-30 April)
Adult Hut $20.00  Adult Camp $10.00
Youth Hut $10.00  Youth Camp $5.00
Adult Hut $10.00 Adult Camp $7.00
Youth Hut $5.00 Youth Camp $3.50
Children under 11 free
An Online booking system is now in place:

Huts and campsites must be booked prior to the trip. Passes purchased on the track will be charged at the premium rate of: Hut Pass $25.00 and Camp Pass $13.00

No refunds are available on Hut Passes after the starting date.

Please check with your local DOC Office or Information Centre re track conditions and bridge washouts. Be aware at all times that creeks can rise quickly, and high tides and big seas can be dangerous. Take extreme care.

Be aware that most transport operators have seasonal changes:

Summer timetable: Labour Weekend to Easter inclusive.

Heaphy Track to Karamea and WestportKaramea Motors/Express Ltd
Tel (03) 7826 757 or (03) 7826 617
Fax (03)7826 703

Mon-Sat over Summer
Departs Last Resort, Karamea at 7.50am
Arrives Westport 9.30am
Cost $27.00pp
Summer timetable: Oct 19 to April 31 inclusive. (Winter on demand)
Goes  from and  to Kohaihai-Karamea, 7  days  per  week, 1 pm & 2pm daily Summer shuttle from end of Heaphy

Cunningham’s Motors
(03) 7897177
Departs 5.45 pm Karamea Hardware

Heaphy Track - Takaka/ Nelson
Abel Tasman Coachlines
(03) 548 0285

Golden Bay Coachlines
(03) 525 8352
Route - Takaka – Heaphy daily,
Summer timetable includes
9 am, arrives Browns Hut 10.10 am, Heaphy Track. Departs 10.15 am Browns Hut at 10.10, arrival Nelson 2 pm.

Winter timetable

Shuttle service on demand
Southern Link/K. Bus Services
(03)578 4075

Heaphy Track to Nelson
Trek Express
0800 128 735 or 03 540 2289
On demand 4WD Trampers bus available

Nelson Lakes Shuttles
03 521 1900 or 021490095
On demand service.
"Run by trampers for trampers"

Karamea Holiday Homes, 3-5 Umere Road, Market Cross, Karamea, The northern part of the West Coast of the South Island
021 172 9829 :: Mobile: 021 172 9829 :: Email: info@karameaholidayhomes.co.nz
Some photos taken by Trevor Dennis of Blenheim
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