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10 Best Walks in Karamea

Robert (Bic) Bicknell on Wikipeda

Walking & Hiking Trails in Karamea.

This secluded town at the north of the West Coast is the perfect base for some true wilderness hiking in New Zealand. Karamea is situated on the west side of one of New Zealand’s least-visited (yet just as majestic) national parks, the Kahurangi National Park. Here, you’ll find short walks to magnificent limestone caves and arches or challenge yourself to multi-day ventures on the Heaphy Track or the Wangapeka Track. Whatever you decide, you’ll be glad you made your way to this isolated town to discover ancient forests of moss-covered trees, nikau palms and mountain landscapes. Choose your short walk, day hike or multi-day excursion with this list of walks in Karamea.

While you’re here, you might also be interested in 10 Amazing Things to Do in Karamea.

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1. Heaphy Track (4 days)

Yes, one of New Zealand’s most famous hiking trails, one of the New Zealand Great Walks, is accessible from Karamea! The Heapy Track is an 82km trail and covers a wealth of landscapes from rugged coastline to tussock downs. If you don’t want to complete the entire trail, there are plenty of short walks on the Heaphy Track well worth doing from Karamea. The Nikau Palm Walk (40 minutes loop) is a well-graded trail for all abilities crossing the Kohaihai River. The Zig Zag Track (20 minutes one way) steadily ascends to reveal awesome views of the Kohaihai river and the Tasman Sea. For a full-day hike, hike to the Katipo Shelter (6 hours return) taking you past the beautiful Scotts Beach and along a nikau palm-filled coastal strip.

Location: Kohaihai car park, 15km north of Karamea.
Department of Conservation on Flickr

2. Oparara Arch (25 minutes one way)

The Oparara Basin is a spectacular area of the Kahurangi National Park containing a compact network of walking trails to ancient limestone arches, caves and streams. Make one of your short walks here the walk to the largest arch of the basin, the Oparara Arch. The walk goes through lush rainforest following the Oparara River to a towering natural arch across the river. Return the same way. See 7 Amazing Oparara Basin Walks for more walks from the same car park.

Location: McCallums Mill Road, 25km north of Karamea.

3. Moria Gate Arch (30 minutes one way)

Another unmissable walk in the Oparara Basin is the Moria Gate Arch. This smaller limestone arch provides a perfect picture opportunity arching over the Oparara River. You can also combine this walk with the Mirror Tarn Track to see an atmospheric lake filled with tannins and nestled in forest, making a 1h30min loop.

Location: McCallums Mill Road, 25km north of Karamea.
Fraser Clements - Tourism NZ

4. Fenian Caves Loop (3 hours return)

More fantastic formations can be found only a short drive from Karamea. Take the Fenian Track to the Fenian Cave Loop consisting of two caves, the Miners Cave and the Cavern Creek Cave. The caves are open-access, so you can explore them with a headtorch and appropriate footwear.

Location: Fenian Road, 9km north of Karamea.

5. Fenian Gold Workings (1h30min one way)

Another branch of the Fenian Track is the Fenian Gold Workings Track. Follow the track up the Fenian Creek to the site of the old Fenian gold workings among spectacular beech forest.

Location: Fenian Road, 9km north of Karamea.

6. Oparara valley Track (5 hours one way)

Hike between the Oparara Basin and The Fenian on this full day walk through the ancient rainforest and along the Oparara River. This walk can either be started from The Fenian car park or the Oparara Basin car park, but transport will need to be organised from the other end. Alternatively, walk to the Sunshine Flat Shelter (1h30min one way from the Opara Basin or 3h30min one way from The Fenian carpark) to get a great taste to this trail and learn about how the trail was made at the shelter.

Location: Either start from the Oparara carpark on McCallums Mill Road, 25km north of Karamea, or The Fenian carpark on Fenian Road, 9km north of Karamea.

7. Wangapeka Track (4 days)

Looking for an alternative multi-day hike to the Heaphy Track? Try the outstanding Wangapeka Track, taking four days to complete. The walk encapsulates steep mountainous landscapes, crosses two saddles and goes through the forested valleys of four different rivers. This is a one-way trail where you will need to organise transport at the other end. The trail ends in at the Rolling River carpark near Tapawera (62km from Nelson).

Location: Wangapeka Road, Little Wanganui, 18km south of Karamea.
Robert (Bic) Bicknell on Wikipeda

8. Karamea Riverbank & Estuary Walk (45 minutes one way)

A short walk in the town of Karamea, the Karamea Riverbank walk begins at the Domain and follows the river all the way down to the river mouth. Depending on the tide, you can watch the birds at the estuary and return along the Estuary Walkway, which links with Ray Street. It’s also a stunning walk to do at sunset.

Location: Karamea Domain
Ulrich Lange on Wikipedia

9. Mt Stormy Track (6-8 hours return)

If you feel like tackling a peak while you’re staying in Karamea, then Mt Stormy is the one! This full day hike follows a steep and often narrow track on the way to the top of the 1,084m summit. At the top, you will be rewarded with views of Karamea, the coast, rivers and the backcountry beyond the mountain. Note that this mountain is notorious for receiving wild weather, hence the name, so choose your day to hike it wisely. The beginning of the walk crosses private farmland, so ask your accommodation provider or the information centre to call ahead for permission to cross the land. Follow the orange markers on the trail.

Location: Follow Arapito Road for about 6km, just after crossing the bridge south of Karamea town.

10. Lake Hanlon (20 minutes one way)

On your way in or out of Karamea, stop by this short walk to a tranquil lake with vivid reflections of the surrounding rainforest. The walk is well sign-posted off the highway.

Location: Karamea Highway, 20km south of Karamea.

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