Heaphy Track (Clint Trahan)

Karamea & Ōpārara walks

The start of the Heaphy Track


Beauty is all around at Karamea, a friendly, little seaside town on the edge of Kahurangi National Park. One of New Zealand’s 10 Great Walks, the Heaphy Track, starts (or finishes) here but less experienced hikers can also explore many shorter walks around Karamea and the Ōpārara Basin.

Start with a short walk on the Heaphy Track, and enjoy Karamea’s mild, sunny climate, a picture-perfect coastline of palm trees on deserted sandy beaches or go inland to the incredible Ōpārara Arches.


Unique landscapes, fascinating forests, palm-fringed beaches

Follow in the footsteps of pounamu (greenstone) gatherers and gold prospectors as you hike (or mountain bike in season) up to a tussock-covered plateau surrounded by jagged peaks — quite the contrast to the lush forest and sandy beaches of the Karamea coast.

  • 78 km, 4 - 6 day hike / 2 - 3 day ride
  • Intermediate hiking
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From palm-fringed beaches and rainforests to alpine tussocks

Many hikers do overnight tramps from either end of the Heaphy Track, staying at either the Heaphy Hut or Lewis Hut from Karamea, or the Perry Saddle Hut from Collingwood on the Nelson side.

The large camping area at the Heaphy Hut:

  • overlooks a coastal lagoon
  • caters for up to 40 campers, in addition to the 32 bunks in the modern, well-equipped hut (book via the DOC website).
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Pretty nīkau palms, suspension bridge

An easy, accessible walk begins on the Heaphy Track then branches off at the Kohaihai River suspension bridge to loop through an impressive grove of iconic West Coast nīkau palms and northern rata forest.

  • 1.3 km | 50 min return
  • Easy
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Lush green rainforest, blue sea, golden sand beaches

A beautiful forest walk to an easily accessible gem of a beach, about 45 minutes into the Heaphy Track, with great coastal views. Sublime Scotts Beach is a good place for a picnic, or even an overnight camp.

Note: Swimming is not advised due to dangerous currents and undertows.

  • 7 km | 2 hr return
  • Easy
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Subtropical rainforest, remarkable limestone formation, whisky-coloured streams

Follow a short track through a lush forested valley floor, across streams stained with forest tannins to the banks of the Ōpārara River and into the magnificent Ōpārara Arch — the southern hemisphere’s biggest limestone archway. Rare whio / blue ducks may be spotted in the river rapids.

  • 2 km | 50 min return
  • Easy
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Oparara Arches walkway


Picturesque limestone arch, rainforest reflections

Easy trails and a loop track to the picturesque limestone archway of Moria Gate Arch and a little mirror lake. Explore underneath the arch via a short side track and follow the paving stones across the top of the arch.

  • 2.4 km | 40 min return to Moria Gate Arch
  • 1.2 km | 20 min return to Mirror Tarn
  • 4 km | 1.5 hr loop to Arch and Mirror Tarn
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Moira Gate


  • LAKE HANLON: Walk to a tranquil, picturesque lake; 40 min return | Easy.
  • SOUTH TERRACE ZIG ZAG TRACK: Historic track climbs to South Terrace for wide views of Karamea and the river flats, and an early settler cemetery; 1 hr return | Easy.
  • KARAMEA RIVERBANK AND ESTUARY WALK: Follow the river down to its mouth, a habitat for marine birdlife, return via the estuary; 45 min | Easy.
  • FLAGSTAFF: Explore the sand spit, river mouth and Flagstaff Beach shoreline; 1 hr plus | Easy.
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Beach Karamea


River and forest track, heritage mining trail, suspension bridge

Follow the Ōpārara River through an ancient rainforest valley. The route links with the Fenian Track heritage gold mining trail, and includes some challenging hills. Two shorter round-trip options from either end with turn-around at the Sunshine Flat Shelter.

  • 14 km | 5 hr one way (starts/ends at Ōpārara or Fenian car park)
  • 1.5 hr one way (Ōpārara car park to Sunshine Flat) - 3.5 hr one way (Fenian car park to Sunshine Flat)
  • Intermediate fitness
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The Fenian

Explore a 19th century gold miners’ bridle track, gold workings and caves. Start at The Fenian carpark and enjoy easy-access, easy to moderate grade walking tracks through mixed beech and podocarp forest that’s also a mecca for fungi foragers.

  • FENIAN CAR PARK TO SUNSHINE FLAT: 3.4 hr one way | 9.5 km | Moderate fitness
  • MALONEYS BLUFF: 40 min one way | 3.5 km
  • FENIAN CAVES LOOP: 1 hr | 1.5 km or 3 hr | 5 km return | Moderate fitness
  • FENIAN GOLD WORKINGS: 1 hr 35 min one way | 5 km
  • ADAMS FLAT: 2 hr | 7 km one way | Easy
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  • WANGAPEKA TRACK: Traverse Kahurangi National Park east to west, crossing two saddles of over 1000m. Starts at either the Little Wanganui settlement or Tapawera; 3-5 days | 52 km | Fit, experienced trampers. Learn More.
  • MOUNT STORMY TRACK: Steep, winding track up to 1084m and magnificent views of Karamea and the river flats. Passes via private property so permission is required; 6-8 hr return | Hard, high fitness level required.
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scotts Beach, Karamea


For more detailed and up-to-date information on routes, conditions and essentials needed for walks, please visit the Department of Conservation website. There is a dedicated page for each walk or tramp, and advice on what to wear and take with you.

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Heaphy Track (Clint Trahan)