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Your guide to Karamea
All About Karamea
Tucked between lush rainforest and the Tasman Sea on the west coast of New Zealand’s South Island, Karamea offers a taste of Kiwi wilderness.The tiny township, 90 minutes north of the town of Westport, sits on the shore of the Karamea River, which flows into a lagoon at the Karamea Bight. Visitors come to this region to admire spectacular limestone formations such as the Moria Gate Arch and explore more than a million acres of bluffs, sinkholes, and beech forest at nearby Kahurangi National Park.
The area was first settled in the 1870s, primarily by fishermen, gold miners, and farmers. Today, Karamea and the nearby village of Little Wanganui are popular among cave explorers, fishing parties in search of trout on the Karamea River, and surfers. If you’re keen to get out on the waves, Tauranga Bay to the south is a prime spot to dip your board.
The best time to stay in a vacation rental in Karamea
The busiest season in Karamea is winter in the Southern Hemisphere, between June and August. This is also when Karamea is at its rainiest, with significant precipitation for up to half of the month. As it’s on the edge of the rainforest, Karamea’s relative humidity rarely drops much below 80 percent all year round. The hottest and driest months in Karamea are January through March, when it rarely rains more than once a week. The likelihood of rain roughly doubles from June to October, which tends to be the slowest season for visitors.
One of the area’s biggest events is the Westport Whitebait Festival in October, where locals celebrate the town’s fishing heritage with cooking demonstrations, live music, and all-ages entertainment.
Top things to do in Karamea
Kahurangi National Park
Kahurangi is the second-largest national park in New Zealand and offers wildly varied terrain, from unspoiled rivers to coastal forests and alpine herb fields. Karamea is the gateway to Kahurangi, and there are several hiking options, including single-day treks to Mount Stormy or along the Fenian Track, and the multi-day Heaphy Track and Wangapeka Track.
Honeycomb Hill Caves
The Honeycomb Hill Caves in the Oparara River Basin is a protected area encompassing almost 100 acres of Kahurangi National Park. These stunning natural rock formations carved by the river are best explored via a guided tour; you can combine one with a visit to nearby Honeycomb Arch.
The Tasman Sea Coast, which stretches south from Karamea to Westport, draws surfers, anglers, and hikers to the region. Some of the best views around are from the top of Karamea Bluff. Once you’re up there, you might spot shorebirds and seabirds whirling overhead, including rare species of petrels.