Author And Researcher
I'm Marios, delivering the best of Aotearoa's nature walks to your device.
I've personally walked hundreds of New Zealand's tracks and spent months in libraries uncovering interesting information on New Zealand/Aotearoa. And you'll find a slice of that research on this page - enjoy!
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The limestone of Paparoa is easily eroded by acidic waters and gives rise to caves such as this one. The mossy rocks in the stream bed, lichen festooned branches languidly arching over the gully and weirdly sculpted rocks all add to the setting.
The access road floods after heavy rain. A gate at the road entrance is usually locked if its a bit dicey. But check with DoC first if it has been raining.
Just north of Punakaiki, over Bullock Creek, turn right into Bullock Creek Road. This is a narrow, winding road, that’s not far off a mule track, although it has been covered in metal. You’re not going to get much above 25 km per hour on the ascent to the parking area, 6 km from the turnoff.
Take extreme care on the corners, as vehicles coming from the other direction might assume the road is empty. Park at the designated area, as shortly after the road becomes impassable except if you are driving a grunty 4WD.
Follow the road, dive down through the ditch and traverse the grassy upland plateau. The peaks of inland Paparoa National Park rise behind.
After 10 minutes, turn right once you reach the signposted Inland Pack Track. The wide vehicle track shortly arrives at a junction with a memorial to those who died in the 1995 viewing platform collapse.
Head left. The track narrows, but is well metalled, as it rises then descends through the lush forest. Steps at the end take you right down to Cave Creek.
Do not stray from the track, as with all limestone areas, there are tomo (holes) which are covered by light vegetation bridges, which will collapse under human weight and leave your skeleton do be discovered in millennia by cavers. Just like the moa.
Cave Creek is infamous for the disaster in 1995, when a viewing platform above the creek collapsed, killing 14 school children. The inquiry found that multiple parties were to blame. As a result, all structures in New Zealand were surveyed and strengthened. A robust maintenance regime now helps ensure we are all safe while using DoC maintained structures.
South Island ▷ West Coast ▷ Punakaiki
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Thanks to all the good people working for the NZ Department of Conservation - for all your hard work - making NZ more beautiful, accessable and healthy! Cheers 😍