Met a really nice bright young Swiss guy in the breakfast room while at the Sarisanee who has been living in New Zealand. He talked up NZ and of course now I want to go there! He, a self-described punker when younger (you would never know it by looking at him) is living in Karamea on the West Coast of the South Island where apparently there is an enclave of “hippies.” Wikipedia says that in 2006 the population was 423! Wiki also says the Karamea township offers local services including a general store, supermarket, petrol pumps, information centre, cafe, hotel, camping ground, motels, backpackers and art & craft shop. Ha! Must have been written by one of those hippies!
A NZ blog says Karamea has a warm climate with over 2000 sunshine hours every year, making it the sunniest area on the West Coast. The surroundings are beautiful with the Tasman sea on one side and Kahurangi National Park – encompassing a high plateau, 15 river catchments and a long coastal strip – on the other. The park boasts stunning walks, including the Heaphy track, and mountain bike routes.
In the Oparara Valley, just north of Karamea, there are stunning caves, canyons and arches carved from the natural limestone and backed by granite ranges. A guided tour will take you to an important assemblage of bird fossils, including moa fossils, that have been found at Honeycomb Hill – a 13-kilometre labyrinth of caves.
The town sits on the estuary of the Karamea river, 100km north of Westport. A two-hour trip down the river from the gorge is a pleasant way to spend part of the day. Horticulture and dairy farming are important industries to the town.
Wonder how long they are going to keep this place a secret. Hmmmmm.