The Karamea Highway: Along the coast of New Zealand
The Karamea highway is a very picturesque road that is located on the northwestern coast of New Zealand’s South Island. In a way, this road is special because it is a “road for Nowhere”, which ends dramatically as the southern access point of the Heaphy Track, an ancient Maori road that crosses the Kahurangi National Park.
The first thing to know about the Karamea Highway is that driving is almost as enjoyable as the destination. You can reach it from Nelson, the largest city in this part of New Zealand, but the beginning of this road is located in Westport, a small remote town. It’s a remote part of New Zealand and a sacred place, land of the brave, you have to be ready!
The dawn is the best time to drive on the Karamea highway, you will have the road for you alone! Mokihinui is the real starting point of this road: after having rolled from Westpoint to Mokihinui via roads meandering amidst mountainous landscapes, you join the valleys circling Lake Hanlon, a lake that was created by an earthquake in 1929. The landscapes are sublime, the mist still adding to the mysticism of these lands.
The road is paved and is also known as the Heritage Highway. It is a place full of life with beautiful landscapes, dotted with pretty small coal towns and places worth a whole chapter in National Geographic! If you make this road in summer, you will be rewarded with views of the “rata” trees and their scarlet red flowers.
The Karamea Highway is 53 km long and includes 68 turns. The passage through this road is definitely worth it because the opportunities to take beautiful pictures are numerous. Don’t forget your camera!
There is fog practically all along the road and enough hairpin turns to stun a whirling dervish. The large number of turns forces the driver to stay focused along his journey through the magnificent rainforests, before joining and following the coast, opening a view of kilometers of the Tasman sea!