Getting here can be a bit of a mission, but that's all part of the Karamea experience.

Where exactly is Karamea?

Karamea is situated right at the most northern end of the South Island’s West Coast. The entire West Coast region of New Zealand is only around 600 kilometres (373 miles) long.
You’ve heard the expression “where the road ends”, well it actually happens in Karamea – the road does stop, and the Heaphy Track begins.

Getting to Karamea by car

You will drive on State Highway 67, this Highway runs North up the West Coast from Westport and goes into Mokihinui, you will then follow the (well named) Mokihinui Karamea Highway into the Karamea township. The road travels through some beautiful coastal scenery to the Mokihinui River.

Passing over the river the road begins to climb up the Karamea Bluff to reach a high point of 420m. It then descends slowly through mixed Rata / Kamahi bush through which you can catch occasional glimpses of Mount Domett (1646m) and surrounding ranges.

Shortly after leaving the hills the road crosses the Little Wanganui River (where many trampers turn right for the Wangapeka Track). The road turns once again towards the sea passing through Little Wanganui and 15km further along the coast you arrive in Karamea.

The actual distance between Westport and Karamea is 98 kilometres, so make sure you fill up the tank in either spot as it’s a long walk between fuel stops. The road is fully sealed and is easily completed in around 1.5 hours, though it may take a little longer on weekends (and if you decide to make several photo-stops on one of the most beautiful drives in New Zealand). It has stunning views of the Tasman coast, river valleys, lush rain-forest and jagged, untouched mountain ranges.

Driving times and distances

  • Westport to Karamea 1 hour, 30 mins – 90 km
  • Punakaiki to Karamea 2 hours, 20 mins – 144 km
  • Reefton to Karamea 2 hours 30mins – 167 km
  • Greymouth to Karamea 3 hours – 187 km
  • Hokitika to Karamea 3 hours, 30mins – 227 km
  • Hanmer Springs to Karamea 4 hours, 30mins – 311 km
  • Nelson to Karamea 4 hours, 50 mins – 320 km
  • Blenheim to Karamea 5 hours 45 mins – 350 km
  • Franz Josef to Karamea 5 hours, 30mins – 370 km
  • Picton to Karamea 6 hours, 10 mins – 378 km
  • Christchurch (via Lewis Pass) 5 hours, 30 mins – 426 km
  • Kaikoura to Karamea 6 hours – 491 km
  • Queenstown to Karamea 11 hours, 30mins – 778 km

Walking to the "end of the road"

Well, you can walk, and a surprising number of people do actually walk into Karamea, that’s because the Last Resort and Karamea serve the Southern end of the Heaphy Track.

The Heaphy Track is one of the finest (and most popular) walks in the Northern part of the South Island. Now if this doesn’t appeal to you (we understand), and if you’d rather save your energy for fly fishing or one of the other exciting adventures available at the Last Resort, then you can drive, fly or catch public transport from Westport.

It doesn’t really matter how you get here, just that you do. Like those who have come from further afield often joke, “Karamea’s amazing, you fly in and are fly-fishing just a few hours later”.

Bus to Karamea

Passenger services on local buses are run Monday to Friday. The usual run goes from Karamea to Westport, and then returns Westport to Karamea later the same day. The bus connects with all other bus services to Nelson, Greymouth and Hokitika, and Christchurch.

This local service is run by Karamea Express. You can call them on 03 7826 757, visit Karamea Express website, or email them at for timetables and pricing.

Flying to Karamea

Flight Services are available between Karamea, Nelson, Takaka and Wellington. There are 3 local operators that we recommend who are happy to fit in with your travel schedule.

You can call Julie at Helicopter Charter Karamea on 03 782 6111, email her at, or visit the Helicopter Charter Karamea website. Or try Golden Bay Air, an independent airline who fly regular scheduled flights or are happy to discuss a charter option. Call them on 0800 588 885, email them at or visit the Golden Bay Air website. And lastly there’s Adventure Flights Golden Bay, freephone them on 0800 150 338, email them at or visit Adventure Flights Golden Bay website.

Sounds Air also have regular flights scheduled to and from Westport – visit the Sounds Air website to check their timetable.

The Last Resort is proud to be an Official Partner of the Old Ghost Road, a member of the NZ Cycle Trail.