10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© www.nelsontasman.nz
10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park

© www.nelsontasman.nz
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
Article Single Pages© NZPocketGuide.com
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Attractions and Activities in the Kahurangi National Park

Tucked away in the southwest corner of the South Island, the Kahurangi National Park is a national park that many fail to get off the beaten track for. But that’s what gives it its charm. Untouched, wild and rugged; the Kahurangi National Park boasts dramatic rivers, high alpine fields with rocky outcrops, and wild coastal forest. As the second-largest national park in New Zealand, getting to the hiking trails often involves lengthy drives from either Takaka or Motueka in the Nelson Tasman region or Karamea on the West Coast. Alternatively, skip the drive and escape to the wilderness via heli-adventures including white water rafting and mountain biking. Discover it all here in this list of the best things to do in the Kahurangi National Park.

1. Hike or Mountain Bike the Heaphy Track

We can’t kick off this list of things to do in the Kahurangi National Park without mentioning the Heaphy Track. One of New Zealand’s Great Walks, the Heaphy Track is a four-to-six-day mission through lush forest and tussock downs with expansive views, finishing on the secluded rugged beaches of the West Coast. Mountain biking is allowed on the trail between May 1 and November 30.

Location: Start from either the Brown Hut in Golden Bay, 156km  (97 miles) from Nelson, at the end of Aorere Valley Road or Kohaihai on the West Coast, 110km (68 miles) from Westport, at the end of Kohaihai Road.

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© Department of Conservation

2. Discover Caves and Giant Arches in the Oparara Basin

After a narrow bush drive from Karamea, you’ll emerge at a car park with a myriad of short walks to some amazing features of nature. Explore two caves on the Box Canyon and Crazy Paving Caves walk, admire a picturesque arch and rainforest reflections on the Moria Gate and Mirror Tarn Loop, and see the largest limestone arch in Australasia on the Oparara Arch walk. Find out more about these walks in our 7 Amazing Oparara Basin Walks.

Location: The car park is well signposted along McCallums Mill Road, approximately 23km (14 miles) north of Karamea in the West Coast region.

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© westcoast.co.nz

3. Check Out the Riuwaka Resurgence

An attraction that’s accessible to all, the Riuwaka Resurgence is where the crystal clear water of the Riuwaka River emerges from under Takaka Hill. The 10-minute walk starts with walking under a carved Maori archway, leading you to an easy stroller and wheelchair-friendly walk through the forest. At the end is the deep clear pool of the Riuwaka Resurgence itself. We dare you to go for a swim!

Location: End of Riwaka Valley Road, approximately 16km (10 miles) from Motueka in the Nelson Tasman region.

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© NZPocketGuide.com

4. Experience Canyoning

That’s right, in the Kahurangi National Park, canyoning is on the cards. Join Abel Tasman Canyons for their dryest canyoning adventure to Blue Creek. It’s all about the abseiling on this full-day trip, taking you down a deep and narrow canyon where, at one point, you’ll only be able to see a sliver of daylight through the boulders above. Note that this trip is only available between October 1 and April 30. Learn more about canyoning in the 7 Best Places for Canyoning in New Zealand.

Location: Pick-ups available from Marahau, Kaiteriteri, Riwaka, Motueka and Tapawera in the Nelson Tasman region.

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© NZPocketGuide.com

5. Get to the National Park’s Most Remote and Stunning Locations by Helicopter

See the dramatic alpine, lake and rainforest scenery from a whole different perspective on a helicopter experience. Get to the Kahurangi National Park’s most remote natural playgrounds with Helicopter Charter Karamea or HeliBike Nelson. Alternatively, Helicopters Nelson can organise an array of experiences from romantic mountaintop picnics to visiting The Lord of the Rings filming locations.

Location: Helicopter Charter Karamea – 78 Aerodrome Road, Karamea. HeliBike Nelson – 170 Washington Road, Nelson, Helicopters Nelson – Nelson Airport or Motueka Airport.

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© www.nelsontasman.nz

6. Do Heli-Rafting or Multi-Day White Water Rafting

Join Ultimate Descents for some of the most secluded wilderness white water rafting in the country. Journey down the Karamea River which carves through the Kahurangi National Park on either the one, three or five-day white water rafting expedition. Navigate down boulder gardens and rockfalls on up to grade 4 rapids with spectacular vistas unfolding along the way. See more rafting locations around the country in the 7 Best Places to Go White Water Rafting in New Zealand.

Location: 38 Waller Street, Murchison in the West Coast region.

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© www.nelsontasman.nz

7. Hike to the Summit of Mt Arthur

Like every national park in New Zealand, there’s a lot of hiking to be done in the Kahurangi National Park. A full-day trip that’s well worth the challenge is the 3h30min to 4h30min climb to the 1,795m (5,889ft) summit of Mt Arthur. The one-way hike rewards you with glorious panoramic views and a ramble among glaciated marble and limestone outcrops.

Location: Flora car park at the end of Graham Valley Road, approximately 36km (22 miles) from Motueka in the Nelson Tasman region. Note that the final 5.8km (3.6 miles) is a steep gravel road.

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© www.nelsontasman.nz

8. Enjoy a Day Walk to Lake Sylvester

If you’re looking for a less demanding day walk in the Kahurangi National Park that’s no less fun then check out the Sylvester Hut Track. It’s a steady zigzag track through beautiful beech forest up to the open tops where you’ll reach the Sylvester Hut. From there, there are various walks to glacier-formed lakes like the stunning Lake Sylvester.

Location: Cobb Dam Road, approximately 49km (30 miles) from Takaka in the Nelson Tasman region.

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© www.nelsontasman.nz

9. Do the Big Rimu Walk

Want to see a big tree? It’s hard not to be impressed by the 36m (118ft)-high 2m (6.6ft)-diameter rimu tree in the Kahurangi National Park. Take the 40-minute return Big Rimu Walk just inland from Karamea. You’ll walk through regenerating nikau palm forest until you reach the main event and a tree that managed to escape the logging that occurred in the area during the 1940s.

Location: Umere Road, approximately 8km (5 miles) from Karamea in the West Coast region.

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© D Guppy - Department of Conservation

10. Walk the Pupu Hydro Walkway

Finally, experience a little bit of history in the Kahurangi National Park by following the Pupu Hydro Walkway. The trail retraces an old gold-mining water race turned hydropower generator. The first section of the trail is an easy stroll suitable for all ages, but it gets more challenging beyond the power station. The track zigzags eventually reaching a lookout over the power station. While you’re nearby, don’t miss the Te Waikoropupu Springs walk, also a great walking option for families.

Location: Pupu Valley Road, approximately 9km (5.6 miles) from Takaka in the Nelson Tasman region.

10 Best Things to Do in Kahurangi National Park© NZPocketGuide.com

Sources:

The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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