Cave Stream Scenic Reserve

Cave Stream Scenic Reserve

Cave Walk - Craigieburn


49 Rankers Reviews

37 Face-to-Face

1 Caving

17 Walking

2 Springfield

Your Nature Guide

Marios Gavalas's avatar

Marios Gavalas

Author And Researcher

Nau mai, haere mai

Nau mai, haere mai

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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Cave stream entrance
Cave Stream scenic reserve
Adventure begins


Cave walk takes 1 hr The cave is 594m long and is one of the regions natural gems. Limestone formations nearby were the setting for the filming of “Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe”.

If you are fit, are suitably equipped and have never caved before, then this is your perfect introduction.

But first........Read what people say in their reviews, this little walk is winner.

A great adventure, scouring holes, terraces and small waterfalls while inside the cave. Word of warning though be prepared, lives have been lost here, caving parties should have at least two reliable lights per person plus spare batteries, warm polypropylene or wool clothing, and sturdy footwear.


If the water is discoloured or frothy, then DO NOT enter.

If the pool at the cave outlet is above waist height on an adult, then DO NOT enter.


Cave Stream is 3km from Castle Hill Village towards Arthurs Pass.


Before you go, read the DoC sign at the entrance and make sure you follow the advice:

2 torches per person with spare batteries. Without a torch, you are stuffed!
Adequate warm clothing. The water is always chilly.
Are you fit?
Let someone know your intentions.

Have a read of

There are several small waterfalls you must climb while in the cave. A 3 m high waterfall at the inlet end can be circumvented with the ladder bolted to the wall. There’s a crawl along a ledge to get out back into the warmth of a high country Canterbury heat.

Watch the water level in the cave. Normally the deepest section (at the first corner from the cave outlet end) is just above waist level on an adult, If there is snow on the hills the water is going to be very chilly on your ..... the water will be near freezing and hypothermia is a possibility. If the stream is abnormally high, with the water dis-coloured or foaming, do not attempt to enter. Read the warning signs about entering the cave - remember this is a serious adventure, the cave has claimed lives.

When going through the cave, the cave passage meanders and twists in pitch darkness for 594 metres between the two entrances. It takes approximately one hour to go through. If care is taken, fit, inexperienced cavers can go through.

Cavers are recommended to enter the cave at the outflow end and walk against the flow of the stream. There are several small waterfalls to climb. To assist climbing out the inlet end of the cave, a rung ladder ascends beside the waterfall. A chain and steps help to get along the overhang ledge to the exit.

This cave walk is not suitable for small children.


The limestone here was formed around 30 million years ago from successive layers of marine organisms, mud and sand, which were compressed, heated and then uplifted at the same time as the Craigeburn and Torlesse Ranges. Once surfaced, the weathering agents of wind, water and frost have sculpted the rounded forms of the karst landscape.


Feature Value Info


DOC Canterbury

Central government organisation


South IslandCanterburySpringfield


  • Caving
  • Walking
  • Free


Showing 13 reviews of 48.

Pete's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

Absolutely fantastic activity even though the water was extremely cold it was great fun. You don’t really need helmets but we had our ski ones and they were worth wearing as well as a pair of gloves. Read the info board and stick by the depth of water at the start, of it was any deeper than my waist it would have been more than a real challenge in places.

Reviewed almost 2 years ago

Justin's avatar


Ranking: 10/10

One of the coolest things we did the entire trip. The trek is about 45min. You’ll need a bathing suit and shoes you don’t mind getting wet (my friend did it in flip flops, he says, “it wasn’t easy”). Water mildly cold for us Canadians. Max it gets us up to your waist. Some small technical bits (climbing a ladder and some small waterfalls). As long as you watch where you step it’s fine. We went in mid March and didn’t need a wetsuit or any of that crazy stuff. Bring a headlamp and I wouldn’t suggest doing it alone. We saw a water eek - kind of cool. No spiders or any creepy stuff.

Overall super cool, would do again.

Reviewed about 2 years ago

Joan Dangerfield's avatar

Joan Dangerfield

Ranking: 10/10

Our son took us through this with his wife.water was strong and deep but afterwards I realised how good it was.

Reviewed over 3 years ago

Bob the genious's avatar

Bob the genious

Ranking: 10/10

Had the bright idea of doing this at the end of March, after a rainy day and night, with a shitty torch in my hand. Some reviews say it is an easy walk but it varies a lot, the water was pretty high and at some point we couldn't get over a waterfall in the middle of the run, tried to climb around it but I fell off like an idiot but luckily I didn't hit anything. The walk Is absolutely amazing HOWEVER please don't go alone and take a fucking headtorch. Really fun to do but it was a bit scary, as someone who did this in not the easiest conditions I can say that it is still doable and can be fun but don't go alone and think well about going in. Water was cold af too. Best thing I did in NZ for me ;)

Reviewed about 4 years ago

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Car R's avatar

Car R

United Kingdom

Ranking: 10/10

One of the best things we did in NZ while touring South Island.
All the signs give serious warnings about being properly equipped, as long as you are sensible and follow the advice not to go further if the first pool is above your chest you'll be fine -definitely bring a torch, preferable one for your head. A reasonable level of fitness required in that you've to scramble up a couple of bits - a leg up is usually enough though. Worth having a warm layer on but if you don't hang about too long and it's warm outside you'll be grand. A real giggle with friends and take time to look about you, not just at your feet to see where you are going, some people were shooting off past us, I hope they took in the wonder of what was above them.
A fun activity to do outwith the usual organised tours/activities and a pretty unique traverse through a cave. So glad we ticked this one off.

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in February 2017

Emma Philpott's avatar

Emma Philpott

United Kingdom

Ranking: 10/10

The most adventurous walk we did in NZ! You get to walk waist deep in crystal clear flowing water through an underground cave and climb small waterfalls - perfect, pitch black adventure!

Reviewed over 4 years ago and experienced in March 2017

Wilhelm Wiechel's avatar

Wilhelm Wiechel


Ranking: 9/10

A great location, you can walk through a cave, round about 45 minutes. It is dark inside and you need a head torch. The water is a little bit cold but a great experience.

Reviewed over 4 years ago

Kolar's avatar


Czech Republic

Ranking: 10/10


Reviewed almost 5 years ago and experienced in January 2017

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Frank Ryan's avatar

Frank Ryan


Ranking: 10/10

Great chance to explore an exciting and fun cave for free! Took all of my family (parents are 60). Walk through a limestone cave with water up to your knees for 45 minutes. All you need is some warm clothes and a torch!

Reviewed almost 5 years ago and experienced in February 2017

Stuart  Gange's avatar

Stuart Gange

United Kingdom

Ranking: 9/10

Well organised paths to all features. Not geared up to walk through the cave stream but looks very demanding and not for the faint hearted - would give it a go, if I had the gear!

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in December 2016

Cecile's avatar



Ranking: 9/10

Just one word: AMAZING. Completely in the dark, in cold water, a good experience and free.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Huon's avatar



Ranking: 10/10

It is really amazing and it is free! 40 minute walk in the dark and beautiful rocks inside with the stream!

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

Floriane Desnoyer's avatar

Floriane Desnoyer


Ranking: 10/10

So exciting experience. A bit scary but keep going! Worth it! Do not forget a torch and check the water level before going in.

Reviewed over 5 years ago and experienced in March 2016

DOC Managed

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 😍

Cymen Crick's avatar

Cymen Crick