Mining history, epic attractions and adventure activities!
The spectacularly scenic Northern West Coast region is well known for its rich coal mining history in addition to its abundant unique natural attractions and warm, mild weather.
LocationWestport, New Zealand
Karamea is a secluded haven, snuggled into the warm northwest corner of the South Island. It's a great place for those seeking to "get off the beaten track". But don't worry, there are still plenty of services including a general store, supermarket and service stations.
- Long empty beaches,
- river estuaries,
- incredible granite and limestone formations,
- tamarillos and fruit trees growing happily alongside Nikau Palms.
Photo Credit: Bare Kiwi
Things to do in Karamea
The area of Karamea borders Kahurangi National Park and is a natural wonderland with caving, birdwatching, mountain biking, fishing and hunting, kayaking and rafting opportunities.
There are many short walks near Karamea including the Nikau Walk and Scotts Beach Walk which highlight the natural bush and coastal features of Karamea.
The Heaphy Track is the perfect pick for families or those new to tramping, or mountain biking. It starts or finishes at Kohaihai, 16km north of Karamea. There are guided walks and kayaking into the Oparara Arches and the Honeycomb Hill Caves from Karamea.
Westport is a coastal township located near the mouth of the Buller River, the Coast's oldest town famous for its coal mining history.
Photo Credit: Charles Bruning
There are many historical places of interest in Westport including historic buildings, railway and quarry sites and a lighthouse at Tauranga Bay.
The Westport i-SITE is housed in the new Coaltown Museum.
There is an airport in Westport with direct flights to and from Wellington.
Things to do in Westport
For a great family swimming spot, head to Carters Beach where there is a park, playground and nearby golf course. Our favourite natural wonder in Westport is the Cape Foulwind Walk (16km southwest of Westport) at Tauranga Bay.
Westport is quite the surf town and very passionate about it, with 2 surf schools offering lessons and hires 365 days of the year, with great beaches for all levels.
There are 3 surf beaches within 5 mins from town, all with beach breaks. For experienced surfers, check out Tauranga Bay and Nine Mile Beach. Lessons are available for beginners at Tauranga Bay in summer.
The Westport Whitebait Festival is held each year in October, and the Buller Gorge Marathon and half marathon in February is one of the most scenic marathons in New Zealand.
Between Karamea and Westport
The road between Karamea and Westport crosses the Radiant Range, offering magnificent views over native forests out to sea. Along the road you will find many small towns.
Call in at the local pub for a bit of authentic West Coast hospitality at Little Wanganui or drive down to the beach.
Seddonville is just inland from the coast. It marks one end of the Old Ghost Road mountain biking track.
This 85km multi-day walk or bike ride follows a long forgotten gold miners road and traverses native forest, alpine tops and seven ghost towns to historic Lyell in the Buller Gorge.
At Seddonville you can access one end of the Charming Creek Walkway which takes you through a gorge and many historic features and is also open to mountain biking.
The other end is at Ngakawau and Granity where you can do short walks to the coal bins, Watson and Mumms Mill.
If you want to do the full walkway, locals would recommend you start at Seddonville and head downhill.
The Buller Gorge
The road between Westport and Reefton takes just an hour and is a truly scenic drive.
It traverses part of the Buller Gorge Scenic Drive which is rated as one of the “101 must do things” by the New Zealand Automobile Association. Even on a misty rainy day the scenery is dramatic. Plus there are exciting options available to raft the wild rapids of the Buller River.