On the north-west corner of the great South Island of New Zealand lies the beautiful little seaside community of Karamea. Located 95 kilometres north of Westport on Highway 67 (and just north of the Karamea Bluffs) the wider township includes Corbyvale, Little Wanganui, Market Cross, North Beach and Kohaihai. The name Karamea is used for both the township and the whole area. It is a contraction of Kakara-taramea, meaning sweet-scented gum, which was made locally from the leaves of speargrass. A somewhat isolated yet vibrant locality, Karamea enjoys a temperate, sub-tropical climate more attuned to the Nelson-Tasman region than the rest of the West Coast. The main industries are dairy, tourism and horticulture. There are also many entrepreneurial businesses running in the area. Leisure activities include fishing, camping, mountaineering, caving, hunting, river rafting, tramping, biking and relaxing.
The population of approximately 625 is comprised of a diverse range of people. Visitors enjoy the local amenities, services and the helpful, friendly locals. Karamea is a popular holiday resort and getaway spot for travellers from around New Zealand and abroad. Many people keep baches and vacation homes in the region. Whether you live in Karamea or are just staying for a while you will enjoy the relaxed and peaceful lifestyle.
Karamea sits gently on the coastline between the mountains of the Kahurangi National Park and the Tasman Sea. The Oparara River runs through the area, and the Oparara Basin Arches, large natural river tunnels, are a well-known tourist attraction. The Karamea River flows into the sea just south of the main township, and there is a large lagoon which completely clears of water at low tide, and completely fills with water at high tide.
The town boasts a seaside golf course, airport, grocery, hardware and clothing/gift stores, restaurants, cafes, motels, backpackers, service garage and centrally located Information Centre complete with fuel pumps. It’s well-managed museum holds most of the historic information and artifacts from and about the region. Capable and highly trained services such as the Karamea Fire Brigade, St. John Ambulance and Medical Centre support the health and well-being of the community.
There are many clubs and organisations to keep people socially involved and interconnected. Organisations include the local Arts Council, arts & crafts groups, Plunket, Bowling Club, Golf Club, Axemen’s Club, Calf Day Committee and Christmas in the Park Committee, just to name a few (see the Directory of Karamea Businesses and Organisations for a complete list).
The region is serviced educationally by the Karamea Area School and School Board and regional library. Playcentre in Karamea provides activities for children and their parents. A community newsletter, the Karamea Chronicle and a community radio station provide news, music and entertainment on a local level. Karamea has a little something for everyone who desires a better way of living and a break from the external demands of faster-paced districts.