On a recent trip up to Karamea on the west coast of the South Island, I went to visit the Oparara Caves. These are a few kilometers inland, and not far from the end of the Heaphy Track. They are an amazing example of limestone erosion…

Huge archways have been cut through the limestone by the Oparara River. The limestone was laid down in the ocean during the Oligocene Epoch, about 34 million years ago.

The third photo shows the largest of the arches (the Oparara Arch). You can see the clear boundary between the limestone and the underlying Karamea Granite. This is about 350 million years old, much older than the limestone. The arch is an impressive 200 metres long and 50 metres across.

There are several accessible caves in the area. The unique geology and ecology is a ‘must see’ if you ever make the trip to Karamea.

0 thoughts on “Oparara Limestone Arches”

  1. Hi Julian,

    I was looking for an image of limestone features on the Heaphy Track and found your photo of the the Oparara Arch. I wonder if I can use it in the publication I am writing? You will be credited as a photographer.

    I work for the Department of Conservation, writing Track Guides for individual great walks. These publication will be used by people walking the track. They will be circulated in hard copies (around 10,000 of each track guide) and online. You photo will be used in the Heaphy Track Guide to show the limestone features that cross the Heaphy Track.

    I am happy to send you a copy once it is ready.

    Please let me know if you give permissions to use this image. I can be contactable on esedouch@doc.govt.nz

    Kind Regards


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