Some years ago we asked Danny & Lyn Bolton and of French Pass Sea Safaris what would be their one piece of advice for us as new tourism operators. They said “always take a break at least once a year”. Danny has since passed away making the advice all the more poignant.
This year we had that lovely problem of working out where we would go for our holiday. Rarotonga was calling us; we were lured by the hope of warm weather. However on the final analysis Little Wanganui, on the Westcoast won hands down. “You are going there?!” exclaimed one of our friends. Little Wanganui ticks all the boxes for our four Bs: Bush, Birds & Back of Beyond.
The Oparara Basin
We grabbed a packed lunch and thermos and headed off to the Oparara Basin, about 45 minutes drive from Karamea, North of Little Wanganui. The access was along a winding road created by the historic logging industry. The friendly, informative staff at the Karamea i-site said we might be lucky enough to see the rare whio (blue duck), which we have been searching for over the years. Their call is a soft whistle and they are often seen swimming in river rapids. The area is also home of the Powelliphanta, a large carnivorous snail.
Despite the rain forecast ,we headed onto the walking track to the Oparara limestone arch in sunshine. Progress was slow because we can’t resist to photograph everything! The novelty of being in a rainforest had us spellbound, light years away from the wide open sky of the Wairau Lagoon and its reflected panorama of dry hills and distant blue ranges. The Oparara arch is a little creepy but very memorable. The information panels tell us to watch out for troglobites (animals that live in caves) but we did not see any.
It is a one way track so we walked back to the car park before heading to the Moria Gate Arch, 30 minutes hike away. Landscape photographers adore this landmark. This arch you enter via a cave, therefore you need a headlight but your eyes quickly adjust to the low light. It is a fascinating underworld of dripping stalactites and other worldy colours.
On our way back we stopped at the Mirror Lake for a few photos and by that time some typical Westcoast weather had set in, the rain drops on the lake surface made a nice study.
We did not see the whio, but we had a great time not finding them! Our next blog will be our day at Scott’s Beach at the start of the famous Heaphy Track.
Do you think we should take Eco-Tours to this area? We would love your feedback or if you have been to Karamea impressions did you have. Here is a link to our contact page.