Atawhai Farm


Wangapeka Backpackers Retreat and Farmstay

Farm Experience

Atawhai Farm - sheepAwake to bird song. Wander freely around our 20 acres of beautiful farmland, and 40 acres of temperate rainforest. Enjoy fresh free-range eggs and vegetables from our organic garden. 

Make friends with our animals or just chill out in our backyard of native rain forest.

Bush Experience

Atawhai Farm - river offshootExplore the beauty of our protected rain forest, enjoy the native flora and fauna, or for the hunter-gatherers, peaceful trout fishing or hunting without the crowds - a real back-country experience.

Atawhai Farm is very close to the pristine Kahurangi National Park, 452,002 hectares of wonderfully diverse natural and recreational values. There are areas of untracked wilderness, but there is also a network of tracks  for easier access to its wild rivers, high plateaus and alpine herb fields, and coastal forests.

Walking Tracks and Hikes

The area is blessed with three popular walking tracks, and a host of smaller day walks, tramps and routes. The distances between huts varies (c. 8-16 km), and use of the huts requires the purchase of hut tickets before you start the walk, from DOC or an information centre - these help to keep track of traffic through the huts, and to maintain the facilities that the huts provide. You cannot book a bed in the huts - they work on a first-come-first served basis. In busy summers months, it would be a good idea to carry a tent as a backup.

We are just 5 mins walk from the Wangapeka Track (3-5 days), so there?s an easy start or a welcomed finish. For more information, see Wangapeka Track Made Easy.

Atawhai Farm - Mirror TarnHeaphy Track  (4-5 days): One of New Zealand Great Walks, the Heaphy is suitable for trampers of all ages. The track is 82 km long, and you will encounter a variety of different habitats, from tussock lands to rivers flats, lush rainforest, to the spectacular coast. We will happily arrange transport to or from the end of this well known track.

Karamea-Leslie Track (6-9 days): This is for the more experienced, and requires a high level of fitness.

Another option is to use the Heaphy and the Wangapeka Tracks to complete a loop. We would suggest going east on the Heaphy and west on the Wangapeka.

The Fenian: In the late 1860s men began propspecting for gold in the Fenian, and cut a bridle track into the workings. Today a series of easy-access, easy-grade walking tracks into this area have been established, through mixed beech/podocarp forest. The walks range from 40 minutes (one way) to Maloney's Bluff,  a 1 hour (one way) walk to the Fenian Caves, 3 'open-access' caves, to the 5 hour Oparara Valley track. More track info >>

There are also a host of shorter day walks available, from roughly 15 minutes to half or full day walks. We have brochures that you can peruse if you feel like a gentle scenic wander, or something a bit longer. Here are some examples: Oparara Basin offers amazing scenery, with native bush, limestone arches and caves that are the home to stalactites, cave weta's and ancient moa bones; a short walk to Lake Hanlon, nestled in the hills of Kahurangi National Park; and the beautiful forest walk to Mirror Tarn, which reflects the overhanging forest that surrounds it.


You can try your hand at both salt water and freshwater fishing, during your stay at Atawhai Farm. Trout can be fished in local rivers and lakes - note that a permit is required, and are available in the general store in Karamea, or can be purchased online. The South Island Fish & Game regulations details open season, fishing restrictions and bag limits, and other very handy - download fishing regulations (pdf file).  And the coast is only a few minutes away from us, where you can fish from the beach or the river-mouth lagoon.

brown troutExtract from the New Zealand Fish & Game web site:

Brown trout occupy a diverse range of habitats. The usual pattern is for the lower reaches of the major rivers to carry more fish in spring and early summer, after which trout move upstream to occupy mid-headwater habitats. Smaller streams generally fish best early and late-season when water temperatures provide for longer feeding periods. Lake fishing is generally consistent year-round, although at the height of summer deep water fishing is best during daylight hours.
    The lower reaches of the Karamea River, up to the gorge, may be accessed via farm land on either side of river but please leave gates as you find them. North River mouth access available via Karamea Holiday Park or South from Flagstaff Rd. Upper reaches accessible from the Karamea gorge walking route.
    Little Wanganui River (this is on our back boundary) offers good fishing from the Wangapeka Valley or Blue Duck (Sth. bank) - please ask landowner?s permission for access. Mouth accessible from Little Wanganui Hotel (Nth. bank) or via the subdivision road.
    Upper catchments of these rivers are truly wild and scenic requiring a minor expedition or helicopter to reach. (Call at Karamea information centre for more on this area, also Mokihinui catchment.) Larger holes and runs in mid?lower sections of these rivers are more suited to spin fishing although during normal flows great opportunities for spotting feeding fish, particularly early morning/evening. Mid-summer ?blind? dry fly fishing can also be rewarding.

Here's some more great information and maps from NZFishing.com, for the Little Wanganui River and the Karamea River.

kahawaiSpinning for kahawai in the river- lagoon mouth at Little Wanganui, about 5 minutes drive from Atawhai Farm, is also great fun. If you're not sure, we'll show you how to deal with the fish you catch, then you can bring them home for dinner. The most likely fish you'll catch here is kahawai, a renowned sport fish, that is excellent eating fresh, and superb smoked (we have a smoker here a Atawhai Farm).

There are also opportunities for surf-casting off the beach, though at times extreme care is required, as it can be a very dangerous place. Never swim on the coastal beaches here, as the are very strong undertows.

Mountain Biking

Atawhai Farm - local rainforestExplore some of the back roads in the area, or cycle to some of the local points of interest. However, note that mountain bikes are not permitted in the Kahurangi National Park.

If you don't have your own, mountain bikes can be hired locally.

Other Activities

Atawhai Farm - beach bbqBeach barbecue: there's nothing like cooking your dinner over a driftwood fire and watching the sun go down over the sea. Simply magic.

Beachcombing: the nearby beach at Little Wanganui stretches for at least 10 km, so there's plenty of scope for just wandering along and seeing what you might find. There's often beautiful pieces of driftwood washed up along this coast too.

Birdwatching: with the coast, rivers, estuaries, and rainforest nearby, there are a wide range of habitats in which to observe bird life, including some uncommon and rare species, e.g. whio (blue duck), kotuku (white heron).

Golf: there is a 9-hole, par 73 course over-looking the sea, just north of Karamea. This is a true 'Links' course, beside the Tasman Sea with grand views of mountains.  Men 5610 m, Women 5122 m.

Helicopter Charter KarameaHelicopter flights: fancy a spectacular scenic flight over the Kahurangi National Park? Helicopter Charter Karamea is a family owned and operated business with over 25 years experience in the aviation industry, that is based in Karamea. They can take you heli-hiking, heli-fishing, heli-rafting, and for scenic flights in this remote, diverse and unspoiled corner of New Zealand.

Picnic hamper: if you want to wander off somewhere for the day, we can provide you with a picnic hamper. Price is dependant on what you require.