"Grateful for the good food, hot showers and laundry after the Heaphy. Fantastic".
Oakley & Josie - Penobscot Bay, Greens Island, USA
What can you do in Karamea?
You are never short of things to do in Karamea. With it’s wonderful mild climate, fantastic natural surroundings, and that relaxed ‘off the beaten track’ attitude we know you will love it here. Whether you’re into outdoor activities like hiking, walking beautiful tracks, mountain biking, rafting or kayaking, fishing, taking photographs of spectacular natural scenery, or just want to escape the usual holiday crowds and immerse yourself in pristine native bush, take leisurely beach walks and watch spectacular West Coast sunsets.
The following information is really just a summary and we’ve put it here to show you just how much variety is available in Karamea. More detailed information is available from our receptionist, the Karamea Information and Resource Center or the DOC Office once you arrive in Karamea.
Honeycomb Cave and Arch Tours
The Oparara Basin and rainforest is just 16 kilometres from Karamea and it is one of the areas most visited spots for a number of very good reasons.
A guided tour of the Oparara, the Honeycomb Caves and Arches is an excellent Karamea holiday activity that we recommend. Tours are suitable for all ages, with a reasonable level of mobility required to fully experience the natural wonder. There are both walking and kayaking options available.
There are quite a few options you can take when it comes to visiting the Honeycomb Cave and Arches, there’s also a lot more stunning images to see and information to learn, for complete details use the link below to visit our dedicated web page.
Heaphy Track Walks
There are a number of well graded walks around the beginning of the Heaphy Track. The track itself is just 15km’s North of Karamea and the Last Resort.
- Nikau Loop Walk (40 min).
This short walk is suitable for all ages and those physically impaired. A solid bridge crosses over the Kohaihai River with ramp access to the Nikau Groves.
- Scotts Beach (1.5 hours return)
Beyond the Nikau Grove Track, continue up and over the hill to see some magnificent views. Ferns and Rata spread out before you, opening onto a beautiful stretch of pure New Zealand coastal scenery.
- Katipo Shelter (6 hours return)
Continue beyond Scotts Beach. Walk up the coast along a Nikau grove studded coastal strip that defines the West Coast landscape.
Other walks around Karamea
If you enjoy being surrounded by the beautifully natural New Zealand outdoors, then you might come to describe Karamea as the ultimate Aotearoa paradise. The following information is highlights on some of the more popular day walks. For more details on them ask at our reception or visit the Karamea Information Centre after you have unpacked and settled in.
- Fenian Track (5 hours return)
This track starts from the granite quarry about 1 km from the limestone quarry on Oparara Road. It’s a 5 hour return trip to Adam’s Flat. You will see a settlement that was used by gold-miners during the Depression. Parakeets are often seen in this area and can add some colour to your walk.
- Cavern Creek Cave System (3 hours return).
This is an extremely popular walk with many of our guests. It is a picturesque walk that showcases the ruggedness of the West Coast. For more information refer to the “Northern West Coast” brochure that’s available from the Karamea information Center.
- Lake Hanlon (50 mins return)
Look for the signpost on the Karamea Highway at the foot of the Karamea Bluffs. This short walk will lead you to a very picturesque and extremely tranquil lake. Make sure you take the right fork halfway up the track.
- Mount Stormy (6-8 hour return)
This steep track provides a 6 to 8 hour return trip that includes a magnificent viewpoint from 1084m. The walk commences on the Arapito Road and permission is required from Daryl Simkin 03 782 6809 to cross their Mount Stormy Farm.
- Big Rimu Tree (50 min return)
This track is a short walk to a large Rimu Tree. The track starts 7km up the Umere Valley and is described as a magical walk by all those who take it.
Mountain biking in Karamea
The Old Ghost Road
The two sections that are open now are:
Lyell to beyond Ghost Lake Hut: 33 km of trail (66 km return).
Mountain bikers should note that there is a narrow section of trail 800m long along the alpine section beneath Rocky Tor where cyclists will need to dismount and push or carry their cycles and that the section of trail beyond Ghost Lake involves a prolonged steep descent (and therefore steep ascent back to the hut).
Seddonville trail head (Welcome Bay) to Goat Creek: approximately 28 km of trail (56 km return).
The Heaphy Track
The Heaphy Track is the only multi-day ride through a National Park in New Zealand. The Heaphy Track is known as one of New Zealandâ€™s ‘Great Walks’ (and thanks to the Department of Conservation) is now a Great Ride. Mountain Bikers are allowed on the Heaphy Track between May 1 and September 30.
This iconic ride is through some of the best scenery in New Zealand. The huts are of a higher standard than other tracks. Most have gas cooking facilities, fresh water, bunk beds with mattresses, wood burners, toilets etc.
The Track is 80-kilometres through the Kahurangi National Park. It traverses dense beech forests, expansive tussock plains and boulder outcrops of the Gouland Downs, takes in the limestone cliffs along the Heaphy River and through the nikau palm groves and white sandy beaches along the West Coast to Karamea.
This is a ride that every self respecting Mountain Biker should do.
Kayaking and rafting in Karamea
According to the experts the Karamea River is amongst the best rivers in New Zealand to kayak or raft on. With such high praise it’s hardly surprising that the town hosts a good selection of locally run ‘whitewater’ adventure businesses.
From the end of the Umere or Arapito roads the river is more suited to kayakers (up to grade 3 rapids). Further upstream is for the more experienced paddlers and rafters only (serious grade 5 rapids).
If you fancy some whitewater adventure that will catapault you through some of the country’s finest, pristine areas then just ask at reception once you’ve settled in.
Kayaks are available for hire from Karamea Outdoor Adventures at Market Cross (just a stroll from the Last Resort). Call Sylvia Raikes on 03 782 6181, or at the Shop on 03 782 6161 for more information about hiring a kayak.
Fishing in Karamea
The Karamea River is a genuine fisherman’s paradise. Its reputation for world class trout fishing is ever increasing and you will find many local businesses make a living by helping guests discover the best kept, secret, local fishing spots.
When in season, the West Coast delicacy of whitebait also runs on the Karamea River, and even if you don’t brave the elements and try and catch some for yourself, a Last Resort Whitebait fritter is a must. Keen fishermen will also find Kahawai quite prolific at the river mouth. While surf-casters can try their luck anywhere between the Flagstaff and North Beach, or from Fisherman’s Rock at the Southern end of Scotts Beach.
If you’re keen to give fishing a go, but not sure where the big catches are, just ask at reception for some local advice and tips.
Surfing in Karamea
Being on the West Coast of New Zealand makes Karamea a paradise for those keen on surfing, but surfing here is an activity only reserved for those who are experienced and know how to handle themselves in strong seas with potentially dangerous rips.
As you’d expect, local surfers like to keep the location of their favourite breaks all to themselves. So the best thing you can do if you’re keen for a surf is to take a drive around the beaches once you’re here and then see where all the action is happening.
Just like Karamea itself, our local surf spots are some of New Zealand’s best kept secrets – but once you’ve discovered them for yourself we know you will never forget them and it could be the beginning of a good, solid relationship.
Swimming in Karamea
There is plenty of great river swimming in good holes in the Wanganui, Karamea, Oparara and Kohaihai Rivers.
There is safe swimming in the lagoons at high tide. Access to tidal lagoons can be found 1km North of Karamea via the airfield turnoff (at the Flagstaff) and 3km South of Karamea.
For families with younger children there is an excellent pool adjacent to the school (open during the summer months only).
WARNING: Swimming in the open sea on the West Coast can be dangerous, this activity is best reserved for experienced surfers only.
Golfing in Karamea
The Karamea 9 Hole Golf Course is set on the coast, making it a genuine links course. It also highlights some of the spectacular local scenery, meaning that keen caddies will also get to see the best of Karamea.
The course is on the North Beach Road (around only 2km’s from Karamea). If you didn’t have room for your clubs, don’t worry, sets are available for all House Guests to hire at the Last Resort.