Yesterday we went in search of Waipu Caves and the Waipu Caves Track. They are between Waipu and Whangarei. We were staying in Waipu and we found the best map in the Waipu butchers shop. along with some nice sausages for tea the night before. The journey didn’t go so well. First a truck and trailer almost took us out on SH1 beginning a u-turn before we’d gone past! Then further into the back country we found that the road doubled as a farm track for the cattle so we got the car nicely manured. Then further on some more there was a grader busy rearranging the road surface.
We finally reached the car park for the caves and the track. Wyn had been doing the research and knew about both. The cave were supposed to be very muddy and the track was supposed to go through to a road to the north. Wyn was keen on exploring the cave and I wasn’t. So we started with the track. There was a DoC sign (in a puddle) which explained the track as far as a lookout. It turns out that is as far as it goes any more.
It is not such a good idea calling the track Waipu Caves Track when it doesn’t go to any caves. It starts at the cave and heads away up the hill. Someone has been sufficiently confused to explain this helpfully in felt pen on the sign.
Whether or not the caves were muddy or not, the track certainly was. It is a lovely track but after rain the day before it was very muddy and slippery. Which made for slow going up the hill, and later back down again. But it is a delightful track; sort of an enchanted forest with enchanted rocks looking like they have been sculpted. It is all limestone and kaarst landscape.
We eventually reached the top and were rewarded with wonderful views in all directions.
Which just left a careful trip back down the way we’d come, trying to not slip, slide and crash. It took us 2 hours for the 4km round trip in the end; longer than the sign predicts but we were just being careful and enjoying the journey.