Westport doesn't have much to offer to be honest apart from a seal colony that we visited this morning. There were about 20-30 seals lieing around on the rocks and occasionally jumpining in the water for a play. Once we were sealed out we decided to head further North to the very end of the Western coastal road, to a town called Karamea.
From what we can gather no one really goes up to Karamea, it's 2 hours out of the way of most routes but since we aren't short of time here we decided to check it out. It is a tiny town with not a lot going on but there were a few things to see. It's the start of one of the 'great walks' - the Heaphy Track, a 4 day walk one way. We're getting into this walking malarky (mainly because it's free) but we aren't quite ready for anything like that just yet, so we just walked the start of the track to a place called Scotts beach which was ok but nothing too special - just an overgrown viewing platform.
We then drove 16 km down a very windy very steep gravel track (it took us an hour) to the Operara Basin. The basin itself is a gushing river surrounded by forest, but after following a track you reach the Operara Arch. Intimidating and daunting to see as it looms over the river, its 200m long tunnel stretches into darkness. The Moria Gate Arch was next which is nowhere near as daunting to look at as it's rival. But it does allow you to walk down in to a cave in the ground right into the arch itself. It was getting dark though and we had forgotten the torch and Claire was a bit scared so we just looked in. The track then walked over the arch till we got to Mirror Tarn, a small treelined lake that offers good reflectionsof it's surroundings.
We then spent the night for free on a DOC campsite, which was directly next to the raging sea and came with thousands of sandflys to make you feel welcome. It was our first night just parking up with out power but it went really well, even though the battery ran out and the lights went dark at 9pm. But that's what campings all about! Plus we saved $30 on fees.