Friendly tramping hub Karamea is colourful, pint-sized, and perched by the enticing wilderness of Kahurangi National Park. As the beginning (or end) point of the Heaphy and Wangapeka Tracks, it's common to see trampers gearing up for adventure (or shuffling wearily to the pub). You can delve into the national park on much shorter walks, in particular around the 35-million-year-old Oparara Basin, whose rainforest hides limestone caverns and natural rock arches.

Driving north from Westport, Karamea is 98 scenic (and petrol station–free) kilometres along SH67 (fill your tank before you set out).