Moria Gate Arch, Oparara Basin
Image: Samuel Mann | Creative Commons

Introduction

Oparara Basin is one of the finest features of the Kahurangi National Park. The 35 million-year-old complex of limestone caves, arches and channels is popular with walkers, cavers and nature lovers.

Place overview

Activities

  • Bird and wildlife watching
  • Caving
  • Walking and tramping

Find things to do Oparara Basin

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About track difficulties

Bird and wildlife watching

The Oparara basin is home to blue duck (whio), bush robins, weka, kaka, kea, tomtit, kakariki and the giant land snails (powelliphanta). Along with cave spiders and short tailed bats.

Caving

Honeycomb Hill Caves Specially Protected Area - Restricted Access

This cave system contains fragile formations and bones of birds that became lost there aeons ago, in some cases contributing to the extinction of their species. Due to its high conservation values, public access is restricted. Guided tours can be arranged.

Bookings for the guided trips can be made through the Karamea Information and Resource Centre: Ph +64 3 782 6652; Fax +64 3 782 6654; info@KarameaInfo.co.nz

Kiwi Guardians programme

Take your family on a Kiwi Guardians adventure. Kiwi Guardians is a free, fun and easy way for 6-10 year olds to get to know this special place - grab a map, go and explore, and earn a reward! More about Kiwi Guardians

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    About this place

    Nature and conservation

    The Oparara Basin in one of the finest features of the Kahurangi National Park. For a million years the Oparara River system has been at work sculpting the 35 million-year-old limestone basin into an intriguing complex of caves, arches and channels.

    Honeycomb Hill Cave, Oparara. Photo: Ian Millar.
    Honeycomb Hill Cave, Oparara

    The forest is a mixture of beech and podocarp, thickly carpeted with mosses and ferns growing in shallow moist soil and squeezing root systems through cracks to gain a hold.

    Unique ferns and algae live around the arches and cave entrances.

    Birds, insects and fish flourish in the environment, which is also home to the rare short tailed bat, the giant land snail, the cave spider and whio/blue duck. The Oparara Basin is a great spotted kiwi sanctuary.

    All insects, fossils, native birds and plant species are protected. Underground cave formations can take thousands of years to grow just one centimetre. They are fragile creations - even the oil on your hands can damage formations.

    Getting there

    The basin is about 20 km north of Karamea.

    An old forestry road provides access for walkers, cavers and other nature lovers to the Oparara Basin. The road branches inland approximately eleven kilometres north of Karamea on the road to Kohaihai.

    It is a further 12 km to the arches car park and another three kilometres to the caves car park. 

    This gravel road is narrow and steep in places so take care. Not recommended for campervans.

    Know before you go

    Safety is your responsibility. Wear sturdy footwear and suitable clothing. Drive to the conditions - keep your speed down on the gravel road, have your headlights on and be prepared to pull over for other road users.

    Contacts

    Paparoa National Park Visitor Centre
    Phone:   +64 3 731 1895
    Address:   4294 Coast Road
    Punakaiki
    RD 1
    Runanga 7873
    Email:   paparoavc@doc.govt.nz
    Full office details
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