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7 Amazing Things to Do in Karamea

BackpackerGuide.NZ

What to do in Karamea, the gateway to the Kahurangi National Park.

Want to get off the beaten track on the South Island? At this isolated town on the northern end of the West Coast region, you couldn’t get any further. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t a lot of things to do in Karamea though. The town is a hiker’s paradise, being close to incredible short walks, day hikes and multi-day adventures including a Great Walk. It’s on the edge of the Kahurangi National Park, home to ancient limestone arches, caves and enchanting forests. So get exploring this piece of South Island paradise!

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1. Take a trip to the Oparara Basin

At Karamea, you’re lucky enough to be by one of the Kahurangi National Park’s most breathtaking features, the Oparara Basin. This basin has a compact network of walking tracks to various limestone arches and caves dating back more than 3 million years. That’s all without mentioning the amazing ancient rainforest all of this is nestled in with trees covered in moss. Check out the walks here with our 7 Amazing Oparara Basin Walks.

Location: McCallums Mill Road, 25km north of Karamea.
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2. Hike the Heaphy Track

Karamea really is a hiker’s paradise and even has one of the New Zealand Great Walks right on its doorstep. The Heaphy Track is the longest great walk at 82km and goes through a variety of breathtaking landscapes, from rugged coastline to alpine tussock fields. Either walk the entire trail or choose one of the shorter walks along the trail accessible from Karamea. Find out more about these trails and more in our 10 Best Walks in Karamea.

Location: Kohaihai car park, 15km north of Karamea.
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3. Visit the Karamea Museum

Discover the history of Karamea at the Karamea Museum. Displays cover local Maori history, farming, gold mining, flax-milling, sawmilling, shipping and more! There is also information on the 1929 earthquake that closed the town’s port and brought on many challenges to this isolated community. The Karamea Museum is open daily throughout summer. Chase more museums with our 10 Interesting Museums on the West Coast.

Location: Waverley Street
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4. Spend the day at Scotts Beach

A popular day trip to experience the beauty of the northern West Coast and the Heaphy Track is at Scotts Beach. Relax on this golden-sand beach fringed with nikau palms along its 1.5km length. There’s a sheltered camping area, as well as picnic areas. Find it only 1 hour along the Heapy Track.

Location: Kohaihai car park, 15km north of Karamea.
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5. Go bird watching at the estuaries

Walk along the Karamea Riverbank Walkway to the estuary to see a birdlife mecca. The estuary is home to pied stilts, oystercatchers, black swans, blue herons and the occasional white heron.

Location: Karamea Domain and Ray Street.
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6. Check out Lake Hanlon

A picturesque little lake just south of Karamea is well worth stopping by on your way in or out of the town. See the surrounding forest reflecting in the waters from a viewing platform reached after a 20-minute walk.

Location: Karamea Highway, 20km south of Karamea.
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7. Take a tour to the Honeyhill Caves

Only accessible through a guided tour, the Honeyhill Caves is a subterranean wonderland with more than 15km of passages to explore. See clusters of glowworms, spectacular limestone formations and the remains of ancient bird species like moa. In fact, the caves are said to have more subfossil bird bones than anywhere else in New Zealand.

Location: Access via the Oparara Valley Trust Guided Tours
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