The waharoa unveiled at new Ōparara viewpoint
Image: DOC


A waharoa (gateway) marking the entry to a viewpoint of the Ōparara Basin north of Karamea was unveiled yesterday signalling the completion of a major upgrade to visitor facilities.

Date:  17 November 2023

As waiata were being sung a kea flew over the gathering adding a special touch of nature.

Ōparara, in Kahurangi National Park, is known for its spectacular limestone formations, including incredible arches and the Honeycomb Caves.

The new viewpoint provides a spectacular view of the basin and includes interpretation for visitors such as a stone diorama explaining the geological formation of the area.

DOC Buller Operations Manager Suvi van Smit says it’s an exciting addition to local attractions.

“Ōparara is a wonderful place to visit any time of year especially summer. Combined with the reopening of the Heaphy Track as a through walk there’s so much on offer for visitors to the Karamea area this summer.

“We’d encourage people to visit on their summer holidays. Immerse yourself in what’s here – look, listen, breathe and feel; explore the relationship with nature and how it can benefit you.”

The Ōparara improvements have been made possible via a $5.7 million Provincial Growth Fund grant, which is administered by Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit, based at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. In addition, the Ōparara Valley Trust sourced $211,835 from the Department of Internal Affairs’ Community-led Development fund.

The works have focussed on improving safety and access for visitors while protecting the highly sensitive environment of Ōparara.

They include a viewing platform at Mirror Tarn and an extension to the tarn track, limestone steps for better access to Moria Gate, improvements to the Ōparara Arch track and safety work on the 16 km access road.

New interpretation panels are also in place to showcase the connection of mana whenua, Ngāti Waewae, with the ngahere/forest.

“The recent improvements have built on previous work by the Ōparara Valley Trust and were were only possible because of everything they have done over the years, including putting in the successful application for the funding of this work,” says Suvi van Smit.

The Trust has worked since 2002 to upgrade tracks and facilities in the Ōparara Basin for the long-term benefit of the Karamea community.

Powelliphanta (giant snails) toutouwai/South Island robin, yellow-crowned kakariki/parakeet, cavernicola spelungula, whio/blue duck, weka, korimako/bellbird, kea, kākā,and miromiro/tomtitare among the species which can be seen in the basin. There are also some impressive rātā and old beech trees along the tracks.

McCallums Mill Road (Ōparara Basin access road) reopens fully on 1 December 2023.


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