Designed by nature and created over millions of years, the great limestone arches of the Ōpārara Valley are a truly awesome sight worthy of Middle-earth.
Follow the beautiful rainforest trails of Kahurangi National Park beside whisky-coloured rivers or go deep on a guided tour into a fascinating underworld of caves holding ancient sub-fossil bones.
The lovely rainforests of the Ōpārara Basin conceal an amazing underground world of caves, limestone formations and sub-fossil wonders.
Beyond Westport and Karamea, tucked away in Kahurangi National Park in the secluded northern corner of the West Coast, the Ōpārara Basin has a special magic, born of millions of years of undisturbed isolation.
Step right off the beaten track and experience a Tolkienesque world of grand limestone arches, deep underground caves, crystal clear streams and luxuriant rainforest. Pristine, breathtaking, nature at its most awe-inspiring.
Follow the easy trail to the Moria Gate, a natural limestone archway in the Ōpārara Basin.
Find your way into pure wilderness. Hidden in the forests of Kahurangi National Park, the Ōpārara Valley is a lost world of magnificent limestone formations and vast networks of incredible underground caverns.
Explore this beautiful landscape on two short walks leading through the lush forested valley floor, across streams stained with forest tannins to the banks of the Ōpārara River and the impressive limestone arches — natural sculptures, etched by water and time.
Follow two easy trails to discover:
Nature’s artistry with water and time has created the impressive and beautiful Ōpārara Arch near Karamea.
A guided tour into Honeycomb Hill — a 13 km cave system where prehistoric creatures once roamed — offers a thrilling walk back into prehistory.
This extraordinary underworld lay undisturbed for millennia until cavers rediscovered the complex honeycomb of limestone passages and caverns, and the remains of nine species of extinct giant birds including the moa and hokioi or Haast’s eagle — the largest, most varied collection of sub fossil bird bones ever found in New Zealand.
Access to the Honeycomb Caves is with The Oparara Experience, booked at the Karamea Information Centre. These 4WD experiences include glowworm caverns and a rainforest walk. Suitable for anyone of moderate fitness, includes some easy scrambling over rocks.
Off the beaten track and worthy of Middle-earth, the Ōpārara Arches are a series of impressive limestone formations near Karamea.
The Ōpārara Valley Track is a day walk (14 km, 5 hr one-way) following the Ōpārara River through an ancient rainforest valley.
This route links with the Fenian Track heritage gold mining trail, and includes some challenging hills. A shorter round-trip option is to walk to the Sunshine Flat Shelter, and return from there (3 hr return).
Exploring the underground world of the Ōpārara Arches in Kahurangi National Park.
Karamea is a 90-minute drive north from Westport featuring spectacular coastal scenery, small friendly towns, and the impressive Karamea Bluff. It’s an easy drive on sealed surfaces.
The Ōpārara Basin — and the entrance to the Ōpārara Arches — is another 23 km / 30 minutes’ drive on a gravel road north of Karamea.
Access to Ōpārara Arches is from the car park at the end of McCallum’s Mill Road. A height restriction on the gravel road prevents campervan or motorhome access.
Pack flat walking shoes, lunch and a torch. There are no shops nearby.
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