- Walks & Hikes
Takaka and Golden Bay are home to some of Nelson Tasman’s most intriguing landscapes – beaches, limestone outcrops, marble mountains, crystal-clear waterways, wildly beautiful rock formations and hidden cave systems.
The Aorere Valley, Takaka Hill and Dry Creek Valley are just a few places where you can discover the network of caves nestled amongst the lush green hillside, and Rawhiti Caves is one that is well worth a visit. Not far from the Takaka township, Rawhiti Caves has one of the largest and most diverse cave entrances in New Zealand.
The walk to Rawhiti Caves takes approximately 1-hour one-way, along the riverbed of Dry River Valley, under the canopy of nikau trees, and up a steep hill to the entrance.
A mossy wonderland is revealed as you approach the viewing platform, adorned in an array of twilight zone flora, algae and unique phytokarst formations. The stalactites and stalagmites in Rawhiti Cave are curved outwards, a natural phenomenon referred to as “phytokarst”. As plants grow on the interior of the cave, deposits of calcium carbonate on the plants draw the stalactites and stalagmites toward the sunlight, causing them to curve.
It is free to visit the cave.
How to get there: The caves are approximately a 15-minute drive from Takaka in Motupipi, and the walk begins at a dry river crossing near the signpost for the caves (don’t try to cross if the river is not dry). The track itself can be slippery after rainfall, so take care if it’s wet.
Photo credit: www.nelsontasman.nz.