Despite its isolation, virtually at the end of the road (to continue any distance north you’d have to go on foot along the Heaphy Track), there’s no shortage of things to do in KARAMEA, 100km north of Westport. The southern section of the Kahurangi National Park easily justifies a day or two and the Oparara Basin rewards exploration.

Back in 1874, this was very much frontier territory, with the Karamea River port providing the only link with the outside world. Settlers eked a living from gold and flax, but after a couple of fruitless years realized that the poorly drained pakihi soils would barely support them. They pushed on, opening up the first road to Westport just in time for the upheavals of the 1929 Murchison earthquake, which altered the river flow and permanently ruined the harbour. Logging finally ceased in 2000, leaving tourism, agriculture and fruit-growing as the town’s lifeblood.

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