The towns of Motueka (northeast), Murchison (south), Karamea (west), and Takaka (north) are the gateways to Kahurangi National Park. Roads extend from these towns to the Park, some require a little care and may be closed after snow or heavy rain.
Public transport services operate between all these towns, and taxi or shuttle services link them to the main tramping track ends. Air services are also offered, which are particularly convenient for those walking through the Heaphy or Wangapeka tracks.
Wilderness, diversity and sanctuary - these are the terms that best describe Kahurangi, New Zealands newest and second largest National Park. Formed in 1996, it protects much of the north-western corner of the South Island. Weaving through the Park is a network of tracks from the easy to the very challenging. The 100 year old Heapy Track is the most famous, a number of interesting short walks cater for the day-tripper.
Kahurangi protects some of New Zealands most ancient geology and landforms, and spectacular areas of limestone & marble sculptured into caves, arches and stunning outcrops by the action of water.
It contains more than half of New Zealand's 2400-odd native plant species and over 80% of all alpine species. Its flora is the most diverse of any national park and includes 67 plant species found nowhere else.
A wide range of birds (18 species) find a home in the park, including the Blue Duck, NZ Falcon, Rock Wren & Great Spotted Kiwi. The park is also the main bastion of Powelliphanta, a group of Carnivorous native land snails that grow up to 10cm in diameter.
Karamea Walks - The coastal section of the Heaphy Track makes a great one day walk, as does the first section of the Wangapeka Track. In the Oparara basin are several walks exploring the forest and the awe inspiring limestone arches. Closer to town are two forest walks : one leading to a huge Rimu tree and the other to some caves in Fenian Creek.
Matiri Valley - A track in this valley leads initially up to Lake Matiri, formed by a earthquake slip. Beyond the lake is the steep climb to the spectacular 1000 and 100-acre plateaux.
Lower Wangapeka Valley - A series of short walks from Courthouse Flat explores the old gold mining relics and beautiful streams. The Wangapeka Track as far as Cecil Kings Hut makes a good day trip or overnight trip.
The Cobb Valley - This is the parks most accessible glacial landscape. Explore the tussock carpeted valley floor and the surrounding glacial lakes and sub-alpine herbfields. a track from the access road leads to the charming and historic Asbestos Cottage (3hrs return).
The Northwest Corner - The Kaituna Track follows an old miners'trail up a richly forested valley (for 1.5hrs). On the western coast, tracks lead to beautiful Kaihoka Lakes, Knuckle Hill with its views of Whanganui Inlet, and Kahurangi Point, where the old lighthouse keeper's house provides accommodation after a walk along the wild coast.
Wangapeka Track (3-5 days) - 52km taking you over two passes, exploring the earthquake torn Karamea Valley. There are 6 huts; moderate fitness is required.
The Heaphy Track (4-6 days) - This 77km track is one of NZ's Great Walks, taking you into ever changing ancient landscapes and views. There are 7 huts and 10 campsites along the way. A special Heaphy Track hut or camp pass is required.
Leslie - Karamea Track (3-4 days) - A semi wilderness experience. You need to be fit and experienced. Allow 7-9 days from roadend to roadend.
Mount Arthur Tablelands (2-3days) - Tramps commence at Flora Carpark. The walk to Mt Arthur Hut or the climb to Mt Arthur itself (1795m) make excellent day trips. A 2 day circuit to Salisbury Lodge on the Mount Arthur Tablelands provides an excellent introduction to this spectacular limestone landscape.
A ROUGH GUIDE TO...
Within the park is an extensive network of huts, shelters and campsites. All types of accommodation is available at the main town centres surrounding the park.
Facilities and other services
Facilities are limited in the small towns of Karamea, Takaka and Murchison, the larger towns provide most of what you need.
Fishing, hunting and walking guides are available as are multi-day rafting trips down the Karamea River. at Karamea itself, tours of the unique and delicate Honeycomb Caves are offered.