Try singing Nat King Cole’s song, Mona Lisa, exchanging “Karamea” for “Mona Lisa”:
Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, men have named you
You’re so like the lady with the mystic smile
Is it only ’cause you’re lonely they have blamed you?
For that Mona Lisa strangeness in your smile?
That beautiful, smooth, yet somewhat distant affection fits well with Karamea, NZ. It is the northernmost town on the west coast of the South Island, located roughly 3+ hours north of Greymouth. (I have a hard time with travel time since my norm is to stop 20 times to wander and take photos).
But when I say a 3+ hour drive, I mean a gorgeous but grueling pay-attention-100%-of-the-time drive. Please don’t even consider not spending the night in or near Karamea. And before you go, gather food and snacks, fill your gas tank, check your tires (tyres), and be sure you have a good spare (tyre/donut/spacer). No kidding. You won’t be finding these easily on the drive, especially between Westport and Karamea.
The only straight stretch of road…possibly on all of the west coast!
Dan scoped out Karamea one weekend while I was in the US, then we went back another weekend. He stayed at “The Last Resort” and just to try another, we stayed at Karamea Farm Baches. Check them out–they are as different as night and day but both will put a smile on your face and offer a good night’s sleep.
So what did we do in Karamea? I think this time I will let the picture captions tell the story.
Oparara Basin Walks, located another 30 minutes north of Karamea, is a narrow gravel road away. Give yourself lots of time.
The path to Oparara Arch is along the river at time. Although you can’t tell from this photo, the water is a clear tea colored brown.
The Honeycomb Hill Caves require an approved guide so we will go back another time with more time and planning. We could have spent a lot more time in Karamea.
You can’t go to Oparara and miss seeing the weka, which are funny fluffy flightless birds. Yes, he (or she?) pecked me as I took that middle photo.
One of the surprise finds was the Moria Gate Arch (which I think is a different path than Moria Gate). On our way out, we made a last minute decision to wander across the footbridge to this one.
From the Oparara Basin, we went further north to the end (or beginning) of the Heaphy Trail–a treck that is on our to-do list as one of the Great Walks. The beach there is wide and flat and the Tasman Sea seems to extend forever.
Karamea, Karamea, men have named you
You’re so like the lady with the mystic smile…