Oparara Arch Walk

Oparara Arch Walk

Oparara Basin


33 Rankers Reviews

26 Face-to-Face

7 Karamea

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.

I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!


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Oparara Basin
Tree - Oparara Basin


2 km return | 50 minutes return

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.

The arch is a limestone sculpture on a grand scale.


11 km north of Karamea turn left into McCallums Mill Road where Oparara Basin is signposted. The road becomes unsealed and is unsuitable for campervans. There is a maximum height restriction of 2.8m.

The road twists and turns, climbing over the ridge before dipping into the basin. At the start of the track is a large shelter with picnic tables, toilets and well-presented interpretation on the geology, history and work of the Oparara Valley Trust. The start of the track is signposted at the far end of the large parking area.


This well-formed track follows the Oparara River through dense, moss festooned beech/podocarp forest. The tannin-stained waters, light rounded river pebbles and rich greens of the forest are a visual and photographer’s treat. There are some rocky and uneven sections especially when you arrive at the massive arch.


Like most limestone in New Zealand, it was laid down on a shallow sea floor at a time when global and se temperatures were warmer during the Oligocene around 34 million years ago. At Karamea, the folding of the crustal layers have overlain the limestone on the Karamea granite, a much older rock at over 350 million years.

During most recent times, the Oparara River has cut these arches through the softer limestone. The grandeur is impressive. The largest arch is 200 metres long and 50 metres high.


New Zealand’s largest spider Speulngula cavernocola - as it’s name would suggest, inhabits the dark caverns of the caves. It feeds on cave weta, no diminutive creatures themselves.

If you come at night, glow worms light the sides and roof like the celestial sphere.

The large carnivorous land snail Powelliphanta annectens feeds on the forest floor. It prefers these calcium-rich soils because of its requirement to grow such a massive shell. These can be found strewn beside the track. Both snail and shell are protected.


Feature Value Info


DOC West Coast

Central government organisation


South IslandWest CoastKaramea


  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 33.

Bruce's avatar


Ranking: 3/10

We took the guided walk -a group of 8people.this was recommended by TripAdvisor! There are no complaints about the track or the scenery it was pretty cool .However our guide (the trip was $90 per person) was pretty average .on a single track she was stopping and talking about things on the track but only the 2people at the front of the group could hear.We pointed this out to her but nothing seemed to change.I did put a neutral customer survey in.However as we we're travelling in a group organised by another member I only found out the cost of the trip later and was horrified! Some of the accuracy of information about trees etc was not that good. In reality your guides need some more training in communication to groups.This is not just a random rant I have been involved in tourism as a guide for over 15 years in Bay of Islands;;Queenstown and Marlborough. Hopefully this will be taken as positive crititism cheers

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Jayni L'Azou's avatar

Jayni L'Azou

United States

Ranking: 10/10

This site is worth the 110km gravel road. We took our Toyota HiAce small campervan on the gravel road with no problems. The Arch is beautiful with a short walk to get there. Plus, the other Arch is accessed from the same carpark.

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Alice and Emily Dee's avatar

Alice and Emily Dee

New Zealand

Ranking: 10/10

This place is one of the 7 wonders of this world. There are two incredible caves which are a short walk from the carpark. Enter a huge rock through a small tunnel which opens beside a river.

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Ferdinand Brunner's avatar

Ferdinand Brunner


Ranking: 9/10

It is nice to discover some cool nature buildings without many tourists. The caves are good too.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

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Lukas Tremel's avatar

Lukas Tremel


Ranking: 9/10

It is nice to discover some cool nature buildings without many tourists. The caves are good too. If Karamea was somewhere else, there would be hundreds of tourists.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Ingrid Maple's avatar

Ingrid Maple


Ranking: 9/10

Absolutely stunning landscape and rivers along the well formed tracks. Very easy and short walks suitable for all levels of fitness.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Monica Francia's avatar

Monica Francia


Ranking: 9/10

Gorgeous walks, mostly well signposted through thick rainforest. Walks to the Mirror Tarn and Moria Arch and Oparara Arch were all stunning.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

Shaan and Steven Baker's avatar

Shaan and Steven Baker


Ranking: 9/10

Allow two hours for both Oparara Arch and Moira Gate Arch - 45 minute drive (windy, dirt track) from Karamea - beautiful rainforest and well worth the trip. Arches were out of this world - raining but still amazing.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

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Didier Rohrer's avatar

Didier Rohrer


Ranking: 9/10

As it is a bit off the beaten track, there is not much publicity. Most beautiful forest walks to the very impressive arches. Highly recommend to go there, although quite remote.

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in February 2017

Simon Dauwe's avatar

Simon Dauwe


Ranking: 8/10

Long drive on a gravel road through exotic bush. Magnificent limestone arches.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Elien Dauwe's avatar

Elien Dauwe


Ranking: 8/10

Not a lot of tourists make it up here, it is a long challenging gravel road to get there, but once you walk down to the arches, it is well worth it!

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in November 2016

Dominique's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

Nice walk through beautiful forest and impressive limestone arches. Do not stop walking cause you will be eaten alive by sandflies.....

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Wolfgang Ellenrieder's avatar

Wolfgang Ellenrieder


Ranking: 9/10

Walking through the bush huge arches with a river flowing through, impressive experience because of the age of nature.

Reviewed about 6 years ago and experienced in March 2016

DOC Managed

Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick

Rankers Owner