Onepoto Caves at Lake Waikaremoana – Day 267
Caves in Te Urewera!
Today we are exploring the Onepoto Caves at Lake Waikaremoana, Te Urewera! If you like this video and want to get more NZ bucket list inspiration, the jump over to our YouTube Channel and Subscribe!
Today we are going to be exploring more of the Te Urewera rainforest and it’s hidden caves.
This morning we leave really early the Lake Waikaremoana Holiday Park because we are going to explore the surroundings. And mainly we are going to be exploring the Onepoto Caves.
While there are many stunning hikes around Lake Waikaremoana more to lookouts and different viewpoints we want to do something more underground and adventurous and the Onepoto Caves are just the thing.
Alright so let’s start with a little bit of local knowledge. yesterday, when we did our boat tour around Lake Waikaremoana with David he told us that if we want to tackle the Onepoto Cave walk it would be much easier to start at the lower end of the track so that’s what we’re doing today.
As we are climbing up the track the forest becomes thicker and thicker it almost feels like we are already in the caves. And speaking of caves we quickly find our first one and we are looking for its inhabitants.
Sure enough we find our first native wildlife and these are cave weta which are really easy to spot with their dark bodies up against the white rock. But according to Maori legend these are not the only things that are living in theses caves. Someone at the holiday park told us that a warrior chief called Tuwai used to live in here and slay any man who would come into his caves. Hopefully we don’t bump into him today as well.
It’s surprising that this is only just the first cave that we’re going into and there’s already so much to see in between the weta the cobwebs the different rock formations but there’s a lot more caves to explore so we’re getting back on the track and making our way.
One of the really fun things along the track is that there is really heaps of little holes nooks and cracks and hidden caves.
Guys you think I should check it out?
It’s a pretty tight fit but as soon as I get inside I find a massive amount of paintings and I get excited. Is that some early Maori paintings? Hell no, it’s a bunch of locals that just went and draw stuff on the rocks with their fingers.
Moving on a little bit further down the track we start finding some much bigger holes and much bigger caves. And it’s a really cool thing to explore there is massive holes from above ground and from underground there is some really intricate cave networks so I’m taking the high ground and walk literally on top of Laura which is exploring underneath caves.
Although this track is only supposed to take an hour and half to two hours it really feels that it’s gonna take us much longer because there is heaps to explore but that’s alright because we find some food.
So look at what I’ve found. Some kawakawa and apparently the caterpillars really love those ones so they’re gonna make amazing tea.
The Onepoto Caves are not your usual cave formations that you usual find in New Zealand. These caves were formed by a landslide which was causes by an earthquake around 2,200 years ago. And it was that same landslide that actually formed Lake Waikaremoana. And these huge blocks of sandstone, they broke into jigsaw like pieces and some of them stacked on top of each other to create all these caves.
As well as caves, the landslides creates these giant bluffs with awesome viewpoints overlooking the forest and the lake nearby.
I want to go that way. Yes, on some parts of the track there’s not really a clear indication on which way to go so it’s quite fun to just make your own way to the next section of the track. But if you do see orange markers when doing walks in New Zealand these pretty much keep you right. If you see any other coloured markers however, don’t follow those they usually lead to pest traps and will send you way off course.
But back to our own little adventure we’re exploring so many different types of caves there’s all sorts of different things from small cavities to tunnels that reach up to 20m long.
Although we’ve been advised to return on the track the same way we always like to explore new places so around the end of the track we keep on following those orange markers all along the way and we find ourselves a ladder out of all things.
And this ladder leads us back to the road that we were driving on.
We do assume that because we climbed most of the hike we need to go down so that’s what we’re going to be doing.
Going down and hoping to find a car at some point.
We have been walking for about 20 minutes on this road there was not a single car. we have not seen any sign of our car, any sing of where we are. So yeah. That’s interesting right?
At last after a lot of walking and a lot of doubting we finally find our car back.
We are now making our way back to our accommodation because tomorrow we’re leaving the lake.
So people have actually done some kind of like semi traditionally paintings which is really cool cos at first glance i was like Holy there is some early Maori paintings right here. No, no it’s just bob and his finger. But you know I just kind of cool at the beginning and realise I was an idiot, so you know.