A self-guided underground adventure!
The Waipu Caves are completely undeveloped, unguided and absolutely free. Entry is at your own risk.
The Cave System is considered regionally important for geomorphology, because it includes the largest cave passage in Northland. Bones of bats, birds, amphibians and reptiles may be found along with the remains of fossil invertebrates.
Entry to the cave is wide and the ground can be muddy. Stalactites hang from the ceiling and just to the left of the entrance is an enormous stalagmite. Even with torches, it is recommended that you pause inside the cave’s entrance for a few minutes to allow your eyes to adjust.
Continuing in, there are no tracks or paths in the cave and wading through water and clambering over mud banks may be necessary. There is a cold shower outside the cave that you can use to clean up afterwards. In places, it will be narrow and tight.
The cave is in three sections with the third chamber being the best for viewing the ‘galaxy’ of glow-worms.
This area also features limestone /karst rocks and boulders that have weathered into beautiful, surreal shapes. These rocks provide habitats for plant that grow on calcerous soils.
THE GLOW WORMS
So, what is a glow worm? The larva of NZ’s most famous fly. The life cycle of a glow worm is about a year from larva to fly and during this period it casts the luminous glow for which it is named. Looking at a ceiling of glow worms is like gazing at stars on a clear night. Totally beautiful and surreal!
- The caves can fill with water quickly. Before entering, always check the previous week’s rainfall
- Avoid caving alone. If you do, let someone know where you are and what time you will return
- Make sure all of your equipment is reliable and in good condition. Ensure batteries for gear are working and take spares
- Take all valuables with you or leave them well secured and out of sight in your locked vehicle
- Caving requires a moderate level of fitness
- Sinkholes are a common feature of karst landscapes. Please stay on the track and closely supervise small children
- Leave the area as you found it
- Do not touch the stalactites/stalagmites
- Do not harm flora or fauna
Follow the signs from State Highway One about 25 mins south of Whangarei, or five minutes north of Waipu. Parking is available at the caves.