Onepoto Caves Track

Onepoto Caves Track

Lake Waikaremoana


1 Rankers Review

1 Face-to-Face

2 Lake Waikaremoana

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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2 km return | 1 hours return

Lookouts on the way to the caves are a nice side-show. This is getting to the depths of how Lake Waikaremoana was formed.


Take care exploring the area, as deep holes, sinuous caves and low overhangs could cause injury. A torch is essential for delving into the deeper caves.


There are two carparks, one at either end of the track. The Lake Carpark is 11.8 km south of Aniwaniwa Visitor Centre, the Spillway Carpark is 12.6 km south. Both carparks signpost the start of the track.


Take care exploring the area, as deep holes, sinuous caves and low overhangs could cause injury. A torch is essential for delving into the deeper caves.

This description applies from the Spillway Carpark. The track in this direction is marked with orange triangles. If attempting the walk from the Lake Carpark, the track is marked with blue triangles.

There’s a gentle climb along the convoluted and twisting track with regrowth vegetation interspersed with splinter blocks of rock. A lookout shows an interesting section of the rock, with the bedding planes clearly visible. Another viewpoint frames the lake with foliage.

The track diverges briefly at a signpost marked ‘track’ and ‘bypass’. Both meet again, ‘bypass’ sliding under an overhang, ‘track’ passing through a long tunnel and cave.

Two more lookouts take in shimmering lake views. This section contains the most caves. You will need a torch, as little light penetrates the rock crevices. Look for glow worms and cave weta.

The track twists and turns, rises and falls, arriving at the Lake Carpark, 800 metres along the road from the Spillway Carpark. Either return along the same track or follow the road.


The massive landslide that created Lake Waikaremoana, blocking its outlet at the Waikaretaheke River, spread debris 300 metres thick over the area. A second landslide then accumulated material on top of the first, remaining mostly intact during its transit. The minor cracks and fractures now form the Onepoto Caves. In many areas of the cave complex you can see how the blocks joined together in a jigsaw-like fracture.

Polynesian History

To Maori, the caves were known as Te Ana-o-Tawa. They were frequently used as places to hide when war parties raided the area. Tuai, a notable chief, once slew his enemy from the entrance to a cave as they tried to overcome his resistance.


Feature Value Info


DOC East Coast

Central government organisation


North IslandTairāwhiti GisborneLake Waikaremoana


  • Walking
  • Free


Belinda Ziswiler's avatar

Belinda Ziswiler


Ranking: 10/10

Highly recommend the Onepop Caves track, just gorgeous!

Reviewed about 5 years ago and experienced in December 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

Rankers Owner