Clifden Caves in Southland – Day 152
Exploring some free glowworm caves
Today we are in Southland, checking out the awesome Clifden Caves! If you like this video and want to see more 365 Days: 365 Activities, then head on over to YouTube and join our backpacker squad!
Today we are going to explore caves on our own.
This morning we are leaving the little township of Lumsden to make our way toward Tuatapere but along the way we are stopping on a field because Laura really wants to take some pictures of cows but turns out she is a cow whisperer they are following her hoping she takes pictures of their best profile.
For our activity today we have decided to do a bit of a detour toward the Clifden Caves. This is a cave network located right between Lumsden and Tuatapere and this is a cave network that you can explore on your own. And that’s really awesome because Laura and Inever done that before.
Armed with a couple of head torches each some torches in our phones as well as spare batteries we make our way into the Clifden Caves. You really need to be prepared for this caving adventure also this cave is prone to flash flooding either during or after heavy rainfall so really make sure you go in during the dry times.
With all those disclaimers out of the way let’s begin our caving mission and pretty much straight away we discover that the Clifden Caves are a little more adventurous than any other caves we’ve been in. There’s a lot of narrow places to squeeze through. So as you can see guys, it’s not the biggest cave. But hey, we’re making our way forward. It works somehow.
The clifden caves are one of the free places in New Zealand to check out the world famous glowworms. Almost straight away as soon as we get inside the caves we get to see a bunch of them right in front of our eyes. It’s really important not to move too much so their fishing lines don’t get too entangled but it makes for really awesome pictures. The Clifden Caves are really an adventure one of a kind it’s definitely much harder than Ever thought to navigate through them but people have left some shiny signs that we basically have to follow.
As soon as we find one of those reflective signs nailed onto the rock we just look for the next one make our way toward it and there is quite a lot of people in the caves.
We found a… We did find a weird creature in the cave. Look at this guy he has a colander as a helmet. And duck tape. And glow in the dark as well.
Following one marker after the other, we continue to make our way through the caves and there’s really a lot to see along the way starting with the floor of the cave which has all these pot holes which have been created by the flood water racing through here bringing with it hard rock which swirls into the softer rock and forms these dips and holes in the floor.
But the most impressive rock features are the limestone formations. There’s all these stalactites and stalagmites and teeth looking formations hanging from the ceiling. These have been formed by acidic groundwater which has seeped through the ground into the caves dissolving the Calcium carbonate to form these amazing rock features.
We are trying really hard not too touch much of the limestone formations because it reacts with human skin and usually make them to become a bit more dark and basically stains them and just we like to leave places as beautiful as arrived and saw them for the next people.
Maneuvering ourselves through the caves is really really fun. I did not expect to find such a small cave right here but we have to crouch we have to pass water bodies and we have to squeeze ourselves even in very narrow passages. Every time we see a marker it’s toward a different challenge.
Hi, I’m Penny. Like I said I’m dumb enough to go into a cave by myself.
We just met Penny who got a bit scared from the challenging pool section up ahead so she decided to backtrack in the caves and we bumped into her and offered to for her to come a tackle this challenge with us.
With Penny leading the way, we make our way into some of the larger rooms of the caves. This is where we find the most impressive limestone formations, where there are these huge stalactites and stalagmites seen all over the rooms. It really is impressive and these caves have been formed around 18 million years ago.
It really feels like every single one of the rooms we enter is completely different from the previous one. Some of them have massive limestone features and some of them have really teeny tiny ones. And some of them just have massive boulders that are really a wonder of how did they ever get there.
As we progress through this section of the cave network we start hearing more of an echo kind of sound and a little bit of a water sound so this should be the section that Penny was talking about where there is a really big pool that made her backtrack. I’m quite apprehensive because I am in an environment that i know nothing about but I’m really keen to tackle this big challenge.
The pool in front of us is massive it can definitely fit an entire person in it’s depths so we are deciding to take off our shoes and we’ll try to maneuver ourselves on the edge of it. We’re gonna hold onto the cliff to make sure we don’t fall into the icy cold water.
It’s quite a tough one so I’m going in first with a ll the bags and then after it’s the girls’ turn.
I can definitely see why Penny backtracked. All we have is this tiny little ledge which is half submerged in the water to make our way around this pool. Penny decides to take all the boots and hang them around her neck sporting a brilliant necklace but eventually we do make it across the pool and it feels awesome.
From here we have a few more pools to tackle but thankfully these ones are a lot shallower for us to just wade through but once we get across it’s time for us to put our shoes back on to tackle the rest of the cave.
The ladders must be a sign that we are coming toward the end of the caves and making our way higher toward the surface.
This is a flipping mission.
What we are climbing through now are these huge potholes which have been dried out unlike that huge pool that we crossed over just a moment ago and this just goes to show how deep that pool would have been.
We really love taking heaps of pictures in the caves and for that reason we’re behind Penny. She is now super far ahead from us we can’t even hear here any more in the cave so she must have found the exit already.
Speaking of exit, Laura and i have been told that there was two extra exits along the cave just for safety reasons but we couldn’t find them so tramper be aware.
My scrotum is having the time of its life being stretched all over the place. But those caves are amazing and we’re getting some sublime pictures.
So it’s totally worth it.
Want to keep on going, Laura? Yes. If I can.
After almost two hours in the cave we feel like surely we’re coming to the end of this cave network surely it’s only meant to take an hour to get through here but cos we’ve been taking so make photos of this amazing place we’ve taken so much time to get through here. But eventually we do see the light of day again and tahdah! We have made it through Clifden Caves the sweet sweet relief of daylight is upon us. I feel ecstatic right now. We made it!
After an hour in the cave we got out from here and the campervan is just right here. So it’s how long of a walk, Laura? Like i think it’s literally about one minute. A one minute walk back to the campervan. It took us an hour to get through the caves and it’s only about a minute walk back there.
Oh Penny. So the lady that we helped in the cave who was too scared to keep going by herself through the really tough pond section has left some food for us and a thank you note and a baggage check tie. That’s really cute. Thank you Penny. Thank you.
And after that awesome day and awesome surprise from Penny we are now making our way to Tuatapere which is the sausage capital of New Zealand so we make sure we purchase ourselves some Tuatapere sausages for some sausage and mash for dinner here at the Tuatapere Backpackers.
We are continuing our Southland journey which is eventually gonna take us to Tu tuata-pear-ri? Tuatapere. Tuatapere, yeah that’s it. So, so are you going to talk over the top of everything I say. I literally helped you.