Getting to Karamea involves taking one of the most beautiful drives in the world: North from Westport along the coastal road, which affords stunning views of the Tasman Sea, river valleys and jagged mountain ranges.
The road then crosses the Mohikuniui River and goes up into the densely forested mountains of the Kahurangi National Park.
You’ll pass ancient tree giants, pass beneath majestic tree ferns and go high over the Karamea Bluff before dropping into the broad alluvial coastal plain at Little Wanganui. You’ll pass happily grazing dairy herds on lush green pasture, the expansive Otumahana Lagoon and then over the mighty Karamea River before arriving in the township of Karamea.
There is a bus service that operates daily (except Sunday) between Westport and Karamea. The Karamea Express departs Karamea for Westport at 7.40 am and leaves Westport for Karamea at 11.30 am. Enquire at the information centre or i-Site nearest you to make a booking on the Karamea Express.
Karamea has both an airport and a heliport, with options catering specifically to the tramper or those wishing to combine getting to their destination with magnificent scenic viewing. Westport has a larger airport and has two flight daily to and fromn Wellington. Cars can he hired in Westport at the airport.
Golden Bay Air connects Wellington/Golden Bay and Karamea.
Many people arrive in Karamea on foot via the Heaphy or Wangapeka tracks, but by road Karamea is about 1.5 hours drive north of Westport. There are several worthwhile, signposted attractions en route:
Drive or hike up straight up from the sea to 600m. See the spectacular inclined railway dropping down to the coast, tour old mine workings and ghost towns, and gain access to several tramping and walking tracks.
This pleasant seaside village has several cafes and shops. Neighbouring Ngakawau is the start of the Charming Creek Walkway, a 5.5km (one way) track along an historic mining tramway, which traverses a gorge that is home to an endemic species of plant found nowhere else on earth.
At the Mokihinui River the road leaves the coastal plains and climbs up and accross the Karamea Bluff Ecological Area, an area of outstanding natural and scenic beauty containing some of the most spectacular and varied old-growth rainforest it is possible to see from a car window in New Zealand.
Lake Hanlon is a small, picturesque lake a short stroll from the road, completely enclosed by virgin rainforest.