Takaka adventure

I imagined that the start of our 3 week South Island camping trip was going to be a relatively relaxing 5 night stay at Kaiteriteri lying on the gorgeous beach before the summer hoards arrived – how wrong could I be?

After a day of regrouping and another day in Abel Tasman National Park we headed over the Takaka Hills to explore further afield, and what a lot of exploring there was to do. This region has a lot of caves, rock sculptures and holes which occur as the area has a lot of marble and the soft rock between the marble is eroded easily.

Takaka itself is an adorably quaint little village that I expect had lots of interesting shops but we didn’t have time for that. After a quick stop for coffee we were off to the Grove Scenic Reserve.

This walk wasn’t like anything I has seen before in New Zealand and could have been off the set of an Indiana Jones movie with vines hanging down through rock crevices. The atmosphere was further enhanced by misty rain. It was an easy 30 —40 minute walk, luckily as from here we were off to a 2 hour hike up a goat track.

On to Rawhiti Caves,  the most un-signed posted Department of Conservation walk* we have ever seen, that involved driving up a farmers drive-way. In fact there were cows in the carpark.

The walk started along beside a dry river bed for about half an hour and then quickly turned to a steep uphill climb for the next half hour. I am not too good with heights and parts of the trail did feel like they had quite a steep drop off to the side. Not sure about doing this trail in the wet. But what awaited at the top was worth the effort as we rounded a corner to the entrance of a massive cave. The cave can only be described as spectacular and as with many things I don’t think photos do it justice. Suffice to say it was one of the highlights of the South Island trip for me.

You can’t venture very far into the cave but there is a great platform for viewing. While we were on the platform we saw some people who just couldn’t help themselves and had gone further into the cave. I was talking to my children about how it’s not good to break the rules when the guy also with us on the viewing platform said he could put them under citizen’s arrest. Umm…what…he was a member of the NZSS…umm…what…the New Zealand Speleology Society. Boy did he have some stories to tell.

So I can’t guarantee you will get your own tales from a Speleologist but I am pretty sure you will find the hike up the hill well worth the effort.

*The Department of Conservation ( DoC ) rate this walk easy. Having done quite a few DoC walks I am not sure this walk had an overall rating of easy. The last 30 minutes are like a goat track, very steep and narrow, clambering over rocks at some points. We walked the track with a 7 and 11 year old but they had recently walked the Tongariro Crossing.

More on our South Island adventures.

Top tips

Don’t expect to find any sign posts to the Rawhiti Caves walk until you are nearly there.

The river at the start of the walk can’t be crossed after heavy rain.

Allow time in the caves as they are quite mesmerising.