Harwoods Hole

  • Takaka Hill
  • Walks & Hikes

Harwoods Hole is the deepest vertical shaft in New Zealand, but is only accessible by experienced cavers who are familiar with the Starlight Cave guidelines. However, it is possible to walk to a lookout to witness the giant sinkhole from a distance.

The Harwoods Hole track is located at the top of the Takaka Hill, in the Canaan Downs Scenic Reserve. After following the ancient forest canopy of silver-beech and traversing limestone outcrops for 45 minutes, you’ll reach a lookout that encircles the 357m deep sinkhole. Although you cannot see down the shaft, spectacular vistas of the Takaka Valley will be revealed before you.

Harwoods Hole has formed over thousands of years and is the result of the gradual erosion of its limestone and marble make-up. Weathered and eroded by a stream that flowed into the chasm, the sinkhole fed Gorge Creek via the cave system. Over time, another underground entrance was formed and the stream retreated closer to its headwaters, eventually drying out the cave.

Note: There are no barriers at the Harwoods Hole lookout, and it is dangerous to approach the edge. Please keep an eye on children at all times.

How to get there: As you approach the summit of the Takaka Hill, you’ll see a signpost for Harwoods Hole leading down the unsealed Canaan Road. There is a carpark at the end of the road by the entrance to the walking track.

Photo credits: (1) www.nelsontasman.nz, (2-3) Nelson Tasman Air.

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