A 594 m long cave within Cave Stream Scenic Reserve is one of the most outstanding natural features in the Canterbury region.
Two short walks lead to the cave entrances – you can can also walk through the cave passage which meanders and twists in pitch darkness for 594 m between the two entrances.'
Time:30 min return for each track; 1 hour total.
Two short tracks lead from the reserve carpark to the cave entrances.
The track to the upstream entrance goes north, through a diverse karst (limestone) landscape of solution holes, rillenkarren (water-grooved rocks) and sculptured rock formations.
The other track leads to the edge of a terrace overlooking the outflow entrance of the cave. It drops down the face of the terrace to the junction of Cave Stream and Broken River.
Observe the warning signs about entering the cave - it has claimed lives. You must be properly equipped if you plan to walk through the cave.
The limestone formations nearby were the setting for the filming of 'Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe'.
Going through the cave
The cave passage meanders and twists in pitch darkness for 594 m between the two entrances. There is a 3 m waterfall at the inlet end. If care is taken, fit, inexperienced cavers can go through.
Caving parties should have at least two reliable lights per person plus spare batteries, warm polypropylene or wool clothing, and sturdy footwear.
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.
Scour holes, terraces and small waterfalls can be seen while going through the cave.
The reserve is on SH73 between the Broken River road bridge and Craigieburn Forest Park entrance.
Know before you go
Watch the water level in the cave. It varies and can be quite deep in places. Normally the deepest section (at the first corner from the cave outlet end) is just above waist level on an adult. If the stream is abnormally high, with the water dis-coloured or foaming, do not attempt to enter.
Any snow on the nearby mountains will mean the water will be near freezing (very cold!). Watch your party for signs of hypothermia.
This cave walk is not suitable for small children.