33 Rankers Reviews
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.
South Island ▷ West Coast ▷ Karamea
Showing 13 reviews of 33.
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
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.
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Alice and Emily Dee
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.
It is nice to discover some cool nature buildings without many tourists. The caves are good too.
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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.
Absolutely stunning landscape and rivers along the well formed tracks. Very easy and short walks suitable for all levels of fitness.
Gorgeous walks, mostly well signposted through thick rainforest. Walks to the Mirror Tarn and Moria Arch and Oparara Arch were all stunning.
Shaan and Steven Baker
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.
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.
Long drive on a gravel road through exotic bush. Magnificent limestone arches.
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!
Nice walk through beautiful forest and impressive limestone arches. Do not stop walking cause you will be eaten alive by sandflies.....
Walking through the bush huge arches with a river flowing through, impressive experience because of the age of nature.
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 😍