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Where Are the Best Beaches in Karamea?

Where Are the Best Beaches in Karamea?

If you’re venturing all the way up to Karamea, in the far north of the West Coast, you’re probably going to want to check out some beaches. But where are the best beaches in Karamea? I’m here to help – I’ll show you some of the beaches near Karamea, including a particularly special one a short distance into the Heaphy Track.

Karamea Beach

This is the main beach in Karamea and it’s a beautiful spot, especially at sunset. We were there just as the sun was going down and were pretty much all alone. Sitting on the dunes above a stunning stretch of beach while the sky changes colour is always a good experience. If you’re in Karamea for a short time and can only visit one beach, this is the obvious choice.

sunset in Karamea, New ZealandKaramea Beach sunset, New Zealand

The Road Between Karamea and Kohaihai

It takes around 15 minutes to drive between Karamea and Kohaihai, which is the starting point for the Heaphy Track (and the end of the road in these parts). You’ll drive by the coast for most of the way and towards the end you can park up and visit the beach.

A beach in Karamea, New ZealandA scenic bit of coastline near Karamea, New Zealand

Kohaihai Beach

The Kohaihai River and surrounding bush-clad hills are the first thing you’ll notice when exploring this scenic spot. There’s a camping ground there and several tracks to explore, including the Heaphy Track, a New Zealand great walk. The beach is great too – you can walk along it by the river or check out the ocean-side.

Kohaihai Beach, New Zealand

Scotts Beach

The main reason to visit Kohaihai is to do the short walk to Scotts Beach. It’s the first section of the Heaphy Track and should take around 90 minutes return. It’s an easy walk through the bush with occasional views, with the amazing Scotts Beach to cap it all off. Scotts Beach is the best beach in Karamea (or near Karamea) and I’d rate it as the best beach on the entire West Coast (although I haven’t quite been to them all).

Scotts Beach, the best beach in Karamea, New Zealand

Scotts Beach features a long stretch of soft white sand, bookended by impressive looking headlands and backed by native bush. Such a special place, and since it takes a while to walk to it’ll likely be very quiet. I’ve heard this is one of the highlights of the Heaphy Track, so I reckon it’d be a waste to come all the way to Karamea and not consider going to Scotts Beach.

Scotts Beach, Heaphy Track, New Zealand

Little Wanganui Beach

Little Wanganui Beach is around 15 minutes south of Karamea and makes for a quick and easy detour from the main road. The road there, which takes you along the Little Wanganui River, is one of the highlights, and the beach itself is a typical wild West Coast scene – rough sand, driftwood and rugged surrounds.

Little Wanganui River, New ZealandLittle Wanganui Beach, Karamea, New Zealand

Travelling to Karamea

Karamea is around 90 minutes from Westport and the road there is a dead end (well, it ends in Kohaihai). This puts a lot of people off, but if you’ve got a bit of time and want to see all the West Coast has to offer I’d recommend a visit. The road there is scenic, and there’s another nice beach along the way with a great café and camping ground (Gentle Annies Beach).

Karamea Bluffs, New Zealand

The Oparara Arches and the Heaphy Track are the main reasons to visit, but as you’ve seen, there are some nice beaches in Karamea and the whole area is beautiful on a nice day! I’ll be writing more about Karamea in the near future, so stay tuned for that!

Are you planning a road trip around New Zealand? Check out our South Island travel guide!

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Jon Algie

I'm a South Island local -- born in Timaru and raised in Dunedin. I left the island in 2006 and returned 10 years later. Having seen a good chunk of the world I realised how special this place is -- the most beautiful island in the world! Seven years (and almost 400 posts) later I'm still helping locals and tourists alike plan their trips around the South Island.