Visitors to the Ōparara Basin wanting to enjoy the stunning reflections in Mirror Tarn now have a new vantage point, the Department of Conservation (DOC) announced today.
DOC has recently completed a viewing platform at the tarn as part of a series of improvements made possible by $5.7 million from the Provincial Growth Fund.
The basin, north of Karamea on the West Coast, is known for its spectacular limestone formations, including incredible arches and the Honeycomb Caves.
The works have focussed on improving safety and access for visitors while protecting the highly sensitive environment of the Ōparara, says DOC Buller Operations Manager, Suvi van Smit.
“Not only will the platform give visitors a wider view of the picturesque tarn, it will also ensure better protection of the tarn edge from visitors’ feet,” she said.
“The track to the tarn has also been extended, limestone steps have been built to improve access and safety to Moria Gate, the Ōparara Arch track surface has been improved, Box Canyon carpark now has a flush toilet, and new video surveillance equipment has gone in to monitor the restricted access area around the Honeycomb Caves.
“New interpretation panels, which will go up next year, showcase the connection of mana whenua, Ngāti Waewae, with the ngahere – its spiritual presence and how it provided food, medicine, weaving materials and more.”
Other works, including safety improvements to the 16 km-access road and final work on the Ōparara Arch Track, will start in 2022.
“The work that is being done now builds on previous work by the Ōparara Valley Trust,” Ms van Smit says.
The Trust has worked since 2002 to upgrade tracks and facilities in the Ōparara valley for the long-term benefit of the Karamea community.
Whio/blue duck, weka, korimako/bellbird, kea, kākā, miromiro/tomtit, toutouwai/South Island robin, yellow-crowned kakariki/parakeet, cave spiders and giant snails are among the species which can be seen in the basin. There are also some impressive rātā and old beech trees along the tracks.