Visit Karamea, West Coast, NZ

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  • Karamea is a small coastal township in northern Westland, seaward of the Kahurangi National Park and southward of the Farewell Spit, at the northern tip of the South Island.

    Karamea is a great base for exploring the Kahurangi National Park, with its many regions of limestone hills, containing caves and rock formations carved by water. Hunting, fishing and mountain biking are popular within the park, as well as white-water rafting and kayaking on its rivers.

    Karamea’s beach is popular for walking and shore fishing. Nearby sights include the cliffs of Karamea Bluff, to the south.

    Accommodation in Karamea (NZ)

    Karamea has a good range of accommodation, which includes a hotel and motels. Exclusive lodges and bed & breakfast establishments are available, some of which are located on working farms and give visitors the chance to gain hands-on experience of a farming lifestyle, such as horse riding.

    For budget travellers, there are holiday parks, which offer camping facilities for tents and motor homes, and well as backpacker accommodation.

    Transport around Karamea

    Karamea is about 2.5 hours’ drive north of Greymouth, 75 minutes drive north of Westport, and 4 hours’ drive south-west from Nelson.

    There is a small aerodrome at Karamea that accepts charter flights from other South Island locations. The nearest regular air services are to Westport, departing from Wellington.

    Shuttle buses operate between Karamea and other locations in the northern South Island, including Picton, Blenheim, Nelson, Motueka and Golden Bay – gateway to Abel Tasman National Park. These services will carry cycles and other light freight.

    Tourist Activities around Karamea

    Karamea is the gateway to Kahurangi National Park, a popular place to explore for hikers and cavers, as well as geologists, botanists and zoologists. The forests of southern beech and podocarp are home to rare native birds, reptiles and fungi; limestone rocks and caves reveal fossils of extinct birds and reptiles, as well as bone remains of the extinct moa bird.

    Cave systems with underground rivers are New Zealand’s deepest, longest and most challenging. Inexperienced visiting cavers can find guided tours that ensure safety.

    Some the national park's most popular walking areas include the Oparara Basin, The Fenians, and Honeycomb Hill – an area of caves and unusual rock formations. The famous Heaphy Track is also accessible from Karamea. Guided tours are available to these regions. Hunting is possible, with guides, in other designated regions.

    At Karamea itself, there are restaurants, art galleries, a historical museum and a beauty spa.

    Locals often enjoy fishing on the Karamea River or from the shore of the beach, which also makes a pleasant destination for relaxed walking, with excellent scenery.

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