Nikau Walk and Kaniwhaniwha Caves...

Nikau Walk and Kaniwhaniwha Caves - Pirongia Forest Park

Nikau Walk and Kaniwhaniwha Caves

Pirongia Forest Park

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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tree ferns abound


7 km return | 2 hours 30 minutes return


From Pirongia follow SH39 towards Whatawhata and after 5.5 km turn left into Te Pahu Road.

After 7.3 km turn left onto Limeworks Loop Road and 1.1 km after Rolley Road, Kaniwhaniwha Reserve is signposted to the right.

There are picnic benches and a toilet with a stand of kahikatea shading tables and with the rippling Kaniwhaniwha Stream nearby.

The Nikau Walk is signposted.


This is a metalled and well-signposted track, shared with mountain bikes.

Cross the road and follow the Kaniwhaniwha Stream on the service road for 2.2 km. This native corridor has been extensively re-planted by local community groups.

Entering the forest, cross the bridge and follow the signs. Respecting the direction of the loop walk is a clever idea to keep bikers and walkers safe. By going in opposite directions there is more warning of an approaching meeting.

There’s a detour (200 metres) to Kaniwhaniwha Caves This 30m long cave is a squeeze. You will likely get wet feet and muddy as there is a muddy slump by the exit ladder to negotiate. Torches are indispensable.

Continuing the loop, the luxuriant nikau-filled forest interior feels tropical.

After the conclusion of the loop you can detour to the large grassy clearing with toilets and picnic benches. This links back to the service road and returns to the carpark.


The nikau is the most southerly naturally growing palm in the world, with leaves up to 3 metres long and 2 metres wide. The coral-like flowers grow on spikes below the crown and above the trunk, ringed by closely spaced leaf scars. It takes 20 years for a nikau to get out of the ground. It then looses 3-4 fronds per year, each leaving an equatorial scar. So to age a tree, count the scars, divide by 3 or 4 and add 20.


Feature Value Info


DOC Waikato

Central government organisation


North IslandWaikatoOtorohanga


  • Walking
  • Free


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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