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Previous day: Day 5 - Saint Arnaud to Karamea

Day 6 - Karamea

Some places surprise you; Karamea was one of them. It is out of the way down a dead-end road, and on the west coast where you expect rain. We were expecting a front to pass over us, so were definitely expecting to get wet. In fact, apart from an odd shower, we had a lovely day.

Apparently Karamea has its own microclimate - in the summer it can be wet, but in the winter there are beautiful clear sunny days. We can believe it - there are hills surrounding it, which must protect it from the worse of the weather.

We slept late (8:45) - it was very quiet on the campsite. It did get noisier at 9:00 - the helicopter that was parked by reception took off!!! There were not that many people on the campsite, but those that visited the kitchen when we were there actually talked to us!! Very different to the night before…. Especially the man with the gum/welly boots - should we be worried :)?

Oparara Baisin

Today we visited the Oparara Baisin. This is 16 km off the 'main' (everything is subjective) road down a gravel track. Our poor old 'WIZ' was really taking a hammering. Most of the things to visit are geological features (limestone) on beautiful bush walks. Hubby was fine with this - plenty of photo opportunities.

There are two main limestone arches above the river - the Oparara Arch and the Moria Gate. The former is huge - the latter is smaller, but in many ways more impressive. Also on the 'loopwalk' to Moria Gate is the Mirror Tarn - where everywhere else is churning water, this is a still lake that reflects the surrounding hillsides.

Mirror Tarn

Further up are the Limestone Craxy Paving and Box Canyon caves. OK while you're there, but not worth a visit on their own (IMHO).

Karamea Community

One very interesting group of people we met at the Arches was the local school. There were about 30 young children there with carers. We got talking to a very nice Dutchman, who had emigrated there with his family. He told us that just one year-group was visiting. The local community is on the up - the school is growing, and there's quite a community in Karamea. On the notice-board in our kitchen there's a diary of events - I couldn't persuade Hubby to go to the Over 60's Exercise at the RSA today though….

This is a community of 650 people, so the size of the schoolgroup is very encouraging. There's also a police station, a very nice hotel and bar (opposite - strategically placed or what?) with reasonably priced drinks and takeaway meals. Also a 4 square supermarket, and a couple of craft shops.

It also has its own radio - but we reckon it's some locals Ipod in front of a microphone :)

Karamea Accommodation

As mentioned in yesterdays diary we're staying at the Karamea Holiday Park - basic, but cheap. We have no complaints.

Also in town is 'The Last Resort' - motel units and other rooms to handle various budgets.

The Karamea Hotel also has rooms. The hotel has been there since 1864 (but we guess not the current building!). It has rooms from about $100 per night. It's a nice hotel - and with the bar attached, a good place to sit with an evening drink outside. They do good bar meals, and takeaways (fish and chips, etc)


One bird that is protected in New Zealand is the Weka - it looks a bit like a duck, with maybe a few more pointy bits. So it was a bit of a surprise when I encountered one on the way to the showerblock.

Terri and Weka

Even more of a surprise was when it strolled into our cabin this evening. You're not supposed to feed them, but a little bit of bread led to some good photo opportunities.

When you're out walking, you hear a lot of birds - but very rarely see them. One exception is the robin (Maori name Toutouwai). This is very different to the UK 'robin redbreast' - it is slate grey with a light yellow breast, and about double the size. But it is the same basic shape, and (like the UK robin) doesn't seem frightened of humans. We saw three on our walks, including this one that was hanging around one of the smaller schoolcholdren.

Next Day, See: Day 7 – Karamea to Greymouth – Re-write

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terris_travelogue/south_island/day_06.txt · Last modified: 2010/11/10 09:10 by art
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