About 45 minutes drive (25 km) north of Karamea, the Oparara Basin boasts impressive limestone formations and is surrounded by truly magnificent bush, and is home to the Powelliphanta – carnivorous snails which are up to 70mm across. Sturdy footwear is recommended for exploring this wonderland. Access to the Basin is via a gravel road. Care should always be taken on the drive in.
The road is not suitable for large motorhomes or buses, and cycles, for safety reasons.
Honeycomb Hill Caves & Arch
Karamea is home to the Honeycomb Hill Caves — world famous for their collection of Moa bones and other extinct bird species. This cave system contains notable limestone formations in its 15 kilometres of passages. The caves are protected, and ACCESS IS BY GUIDED TOUR ONLY. A guided kayak trip to the Honeycomb Hill Arch is also available. Customised tours by arrangement.
Oparara Basin Walks
Public Access from the Oparara Carpark
Oparara Arch (25 minutes one way) 1km Take the left hand track just before the Oparara Bridge. This is a well formed track following the Oparara River to the larger of the limestone arches. Blue ducks can sometimes be seen playing in the rapids.
Moria Gate Arch (30 minutes one way) 1.2km Beginning at the Oparara carpark, this track takes you through beautiful rainforest and moss-covered trees to a very picturesque arch stretching over the Oparara River.
Mirror Tarn (10 minutes one way) 600m Turn right at the sign just past the Oparara Bridge and follow the track upriver to a small but picturesque lake tucked away in the bush.
Moria Gate/Mirror Tarn Loop Track (1 hour 30 mins round trip) 4.1 km An easy-access easy-grade loop track linking these 2 attractions. Explore down under the Arch, then continue on over the top of Moria Gate (try counting the paving stones, where moa have obviously been before you!) and loop around the terrace to come back out at the carpark via Mirror Tarn.
Oparara Valley Track (5hrs one way) 14km A stunning new full day walk, through ancient stands of rimu and kahikatea forest, down the Oparara River. Links up with the Fenian Track and comes out at the carpark in the Fenian. A reasonable level of fitness is required.
The Valley Track has been built and is maintained by the Oparara Valley Trust, as a walking track only. Please respect the purpose for which the track has been built. The Oparara Basin is in the Kahurangi National Park, and NO mountain biking is permitted in National Parks.
Oparara Valley Track to Sunshine Flat Shelter (1hr 30min one way) 4.5km Leaving the Oparara carpark, walk partway down the Valley Track for just a taste of the primeval rainforest to be found in the Oparara. Take a breather at the shelter and read the amazing story of how the track was constructed.
Crazy Paving & Box Canyon Caves (5 minutes one way) 100m Torches necessary. Continue 2.5km on past the Arch carpark to the Cave carpark. A short walk through the rainforest will take you to the Crazy Paving Cave (the first of the 2 caves), Cave spiders and cave wetas a specialty! Continue on the main track up the steps to the Box Canyon Cave and descend down steep stairs to the cave floor. This is a large open cave, with several limestone passages off to the sides.
K-Road Mountainbike and Walking Track About 10km into the Basin. The return trip is approximately 27 km long – graded as an easy to medium track. K–Road is wide enough for both the keen tramper & the enthusiastic mountain biker, and features areas of cut-over bush, exotic plantations, and fast regenerating native species, with some water features and several stunning views.