hikes in Karamea, New Zealand

5 Amazing Hikes in Karamea, New Zealand

Last Updated: 18th August, 2023

Karamea is located at the top of the wild West Coast of New Zealand, and is known for being the gateway to the incredible Kahurangi National Park. So it will come to no surprise that Karamea is surrounded by some incredible (and some challenging) hikes through some of the most beautiful and wild scenery that New Zealand has to offer! In this post, I talk about 5 of the best hikes in Karamea, so you can pick and choose which one looks perfect for you. Happy hiking!

forest hikes in Karamea, New Zealand

If you are looking for a shorter walk or two to do around Karamea, check out my post on the best short-walks here!

The 5 Best Hikes in Karamea, New Zealand

1. Fenian Track and Fenian Caves Loop

  • Walking Time: 3 hours
  • Distance: 8.6km return
  • Trail Difficulty: Easy and then an advanced tramping track!

This is an awesome and adventurous afternoon hike in Karamea! It’s a fantastic adventure for those who don’t mind a more challenging hike, with a reward of 3 fantastic limestone caves to explore!

This track begins on the main Fenian Track – an old bridle path – that follows the banks of the Oparara River. This is lovely and easy walking, with a well maintained path through stunning forest. After about 40 minutes of walking along this track, you will come across the beginning of the Fenian Caves Loop Track!

cave hikes in Karamea, New Zealand

Be warned! The track changes dramatically from a gentle stroll to a more challenging (and more fun!) tramping track, complete with muddy patches, uneven ground, and tree-roots everywhere! Make sure to bring good, sturdy footwear!

This loop takes around an hour, and gives you the awesome opportunity to explore three open-access caves! Miner’s Cave and Cavern Creek Cave are beside the track, filled with stalactites and other nooks and crannies to explore. Tunnel Cave is an 80 meter long tunnel that the track passes through – how cool! Make sure to remember your head torch for this hike, as you’ll need it when exploring the pitch-black caves.

Getting to the Fenian Track

This walk is very close to Karamea township, and is only 6 minutes (5.2km) from the center of town! Drive north up Oparara Road, before following the road to the right along Fenian Road. This will follow the river a little way, before ending at a carpark and the beginning of the track!

2. The incredible Heaphy Track

  • Walking Time: 4-6 days (multi-day hike)
  • Distance: 78.4km
  • Trail Difficulty: Intermediate Great Walk/ Easier tramping track

Out of all the things to do near Karamea, this is probably the most famous and well-known attraction! The Heaphy Track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, and is a multi-day hike through the stunning and untouched Kahurangi National Park.

This walk is particularly special, as it give you an incredible taste of all the West Coast has to offer, with each section of the track being vastly different. The Heaphy Track travels along an ancient Maori trail that crosses from the roaring seas of the West Coast, through lush forests filled with native flora and fauna, and out onto the sub-alpine tussock downs of Golden Bay.

To see more about planning your Heaphy Track adventure, check out the official Heaphy Track site here!

3. Oparara Valley Track

  • Walking Time: 5 hours
  • Distance: 14km one-way
  • Trail Difficulty: An easy day-hike in Karamea

This is a fantastic day-hike in Karamea, with a fairly easy and well-maintained path taking you through stunning sections of ancient rainforest. This track links the popular Oparara Basin with the historic Fenian Track (mentioned above!).

From the Oparara Basin Car Park, begin on the Moria Gate and Mirror Tarn Loop Track. The beginning of this walk takes you past one of the incredible natural limestone arches that the Oparara Basin is famous for!

Ōpārara basin hikes in Karamea, New Zealand

From here, the track branches off the loop track and heaps deeper into the dense rainforest. Keep your eyes open for some of New Zealand’s cheeky wildlife! The forest is filled with bird life, including the kākā, kea, tomtit, and parakeets in amongst the huge rimu and kahikatea trees!

About half-way, you will come across Sunshine Flat (lovely name for a lovely place!). This has a toilet, a small shelter, and some information panels on the surrounding forest. This is a perfect spot for a packed lunch and a rest in in the heart of the ancient forest!

hikes in Karamea, New Zealand

Continue on through the ‘Avenue of the Giants’ a locally named section of the track, as you continue through the forest, before crossing the suspension bridge at Postal River. From here, it is only a short walk until you reach the junction with the Fenian Track, where you can continue to the car park, or explore the Cave Loop Track!

To see more information on the awesome walks in the Oparara Basin, check out my post here!

4. Wangapeka Track

  • Walking Time: 3-5 days
  • Distance: 52km one way
  • Trail Difficulty: Advanced tramping track

The Wangapeka Track is another incredible multi-day hiking route that ventures deep into the wild Kahurangi National Park. This hike is a lot more challenging than the Heaphy Track, with sections of the track requiring high levels of backcountry skills and experience. However, if you are knowledgeable and experienced, then what an incredible adventure this hike is!

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The Wangapeka route stretches from the Waimea Basin in the east, all the way over to near Karamea on the West Coast. It crosses two saddles, each of over 1000meters, and travels through beautiful beech-forested valleys of the Wangapeka, Karamea, Taipo, and Little Wanganui rivers.

Getting to the Wangapeka Track

The Wangapeka Track begins (or ends, depending which way you are heading) just outside of Little Wanganui, just south of Karamea. The track starts at the end of Wangapeka Road, and ends at the Rolling River car park near Tapawera (around 60km from Nelson).

5. Mount Stormy Track

  • Walking Time: 6-8 hours return
  • Summit Height: 1084 meters
  • Trail Difficulty: Moderate, a high-level of fitness required

If you are looking for a challenging full-day hike with some magnificent views, then Mt Stormy is for you. This is a challenging track for fit and experienced trampers, with 2 stream crossings and an incredible land bridge around 30 meters long!

Mt Stormy (which looks like a forest-covered Uluru) looms over Karamea at 1084 meters! The track begins around 7 km from Karamea township, and crosses flat farmland before reaching the base of the mountain. The narrow path then begins it’s winding ascent up the mountainside, through several different forest types, until you reach the summit. From here, you are rewarded with incredible views over the Kahurangi National Park, Karamea River, and the wild West Coast!

I hope you enjoyed my post on the best hikes in Karamea! This area is incredible, and so often overlooked by travelers for more well-known tourist hot-spots, and I wanted to explore this section of the West Coast a little more!

If you are looking for some other Cool things to do in Karamea, check out my post here!

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