There are two main communities that make up the Karamea region north of the bluffs. The first community sign you encounter upon descending from the bluffs road reads ‘Little Wanganui’. This borough is part of the greater Karamea ‘shire’ but it takes pride in its own identity and community spirit. The Little Wanganui Hotel, the Little Wanganui Rural Fire Brigade and the Little Wanganui Hall are all visual identifiers of this robust corner of the region. The folk who live in Little Wanganui are proud and organised and plucky.
Up the road about seventeen kilometres you arrive at the township officially called Karamea. Karameans have invested in the geography and fair climate that surrounds them. Dairy farming prospers. Horticulture is developing, giving rise to orchards and one of the largest tomato hot-houses in the country. And Tourism is a staple of enterprise for the Karamea region. Today the territory draws worldwide visitors to the Oparara Arches, the Honeycomb Caves, the Heaphy Track, a beachside public golf course, great fishing and tramping and kayaking and beaches and so much more.
You only have to drop into Market Cross any morning and visit the 4-Square grocery or the Karamea Hardware Store to see and meet the locals mingling together in a community way. Local volunteer groups and social clubs proliferate with enthusiastic self-reliance. Community spirit abounds.
Here are some little known facts about the region of Karamea that visitors and tourists will appreciate. Great dining... there are five restaurants in the greater Karamea area. Their culinary offerings are wonderful and varied to suit local and non-local taste buds. Terrific accommodation... there are two campgrounds, three great motels, two charming hotels, a pair of luxury chalets, a selection of fine budget backpackers, a variety of lovely bed & breakfasts, and a bit of freedom camping where you can find it. Holiday homes and baches are also available. Wonderful activities... There are the caves and the arches, the rivers and beaches and the golfing and the fishing (and white-baiting!). There’s also the Kahurangi National Park and the outdoor wilderness playground that it offers to trampers and bird watchers.
Karamea has a very good medical centre (complete with our own doctor and a team of nurses) as well as having two rural fire services and St. John ambulance on site. Our local area school is staffed with dedicated teachers and the buildings and grounds are kept in tip-top shape.
As a holiday home destination there is no equal. There’s the magnificent beauty of the geography. There are the sub-tropical temperatures and seasons. Housing is comparatively economical. There is very little crime.
Finally getting back to the not-so-secret ingredient in the Karamea mix, it’s the people who make this community wonderful. They are the natural resource upon which the town prospers and shines. Come here, stay a while and get to know some of the locals. This is the key to knowing and appreciating this unique corner of the world. Think of Karamea as an island getaway that you can reach by car.